ESPN’s Subscriber Counts Include Sling TV

A lot of noise is being made about ESPN’s continuing subscriber losses, including 1.5 million from May to February of 2016. While ESPN still maintains they have ‘more subscribers than HBO’ that doesn’t really mean much in terms of overall subscribers. As the linked article points out, the estimated contracts that ESPN has in place mean they are on the hook for about $6 billion per year – and that has nothing to do with just general operating expenses. If the math in the article is correct, that means ESPN is about 19 million subscribers away from not even being able to fulfill their contracts – which probably means they will try to continue to slash expenses while at the same time, drive up advertising costs.

That won’t be easy – they basically have to try and increase their viewer numbers while simultaneously losing the pool of cable subscribers they have to draw from. Now, to be clear, it’s almost guaranteed that other non-premium cable networks are seeing similar drop offs in subscribers because they are all in the same cable bundles, but since ESPN costs so much more than the other channels while also having massive content deals in place, their plight is the most extreme.

ESPN’s subscriber numbers include Sling TV, but here the network also starts some mental gymnastics: the network’s CEO John Skipper claims that streaming viewers are insignificant, and recent reports maintain that streaming viewers make up about 1% of their total numbers. However, it should be noted that the only ways to stream ESPN are either to have a cable login or Sling TV – which means that most viewers have the cable option and it could be assumed that given the choice of streaming a game or watching it on cable, their choice would be cable. No confirmation yet on how much of that 1% figure is made up by Sling TV viewers.

Here’s the rub: while cable subscribers who are not sports fans have some options to get their programming without cable now, they can choose to leave the cable bundle behind but still be subscribed to their favorite channels. However, with the lack of options for ESPN subscribers, if they leave cable, they only have one option, which is Sling. So that leads to the likely reality that many subscribers who are leaving ESPN (along with cable, presumably) weren’t sports fans or ESPN viewers to begin with, and aren’t coming back. That’s the larger problem for ESPN – they rely on the bundling to keep their monthly fees low (not low relative to other channels, but low for subscribers) given that they benefit from millions of viewers who pay for ESPN but don’t actually watch it.

 

Bandwidth Overkill Podcast! Episode 1

Bandwidth Overkill Logo The new podcast from NetCast Sports, Bandwidth Overkill, is live! The goal of the show is to take everyone along for the journey as we work to build a completely new, independent sports network. NCSN doesn’t require a cable subscription and we’re definitely part of the cord-cutting movement.

Be sure to check out Episode 1: The Fix is In! Talking about the NBA and ratings, Teradek cubes, Android TV and BitTorrent live streaming!

ECBL Broadcast, May 7: High Point Hawks at Winston-Salem Certified

East Coast Basketball League logo

On Saturday, May 7, NetCast Sports Network will broadcast the ECBL Game of the Week, featuring the High Point Hawks as they travel to face Winston-Salem Certified. If you are not familiar with the region, High Point and Winston-Salem are neighboring cities so this pretty much automatically qualifies as a rivalry game.

High Point comes into the game with a 3-4 record on the season and is coming off a loss to the Petersburg Revolution (which can be watched on replay here). Winston-Salem’s record on the year is 2-5 and they want to get on the winning track with this upcoming home game.

Game time is expected to tip at 5 pm EST – if there are issues the broadcast will be slightly delayed. For updates, be sure to follow @NetCastSports on Twitter.

Broadcast link: http://www.netcastsports.com/Video/Watch/88sylv2dLHE

ECBL Broadcast, May 1: Petersburg Revolution at High Point Hawks

On Sunday, May 1, NetCast Sports launches our first broadcast with the ECBL for several of this season’s Game of the Week broadcasts. The first game will feature the Petersburg Revolution (VA) at the High Point Hawks(NC). Game time is expected to tip at 3 pm EST – if there are issues the broadcast will be slightly delayed. For updates, be sure to follow @NetCastSports on Twitter.

Broadcast link: http://www.netcastsports.com/Video/Watch/qKTeJze79R8

Fab 40 Game Three Posted

The third broadcast game replay from the 2016 Fab 40 Eastern NC Regional has been posted: http://www.netcastsports.com/Video/Watch/UVTDVSg-TCQ

As mentioned before there are technical issues with the replay that are not able to be resolved. We will continue working on the remaining two games and post them as soon as possible.

Thanks for your patience and please follow us on Twitter @NetCastSports for additional updates/announcements.

Top 10 Broadcasts – First Quarter 2016

A quick update today, the Top 10 NCSN Broadcasts from the first quarter of 2016. These include the live and on-demand viewer numbers as of today.

  1. RJ Reynolds HS (NC) vs. IC Norcom (VA)  Watch Now
  2. Triad All-Star Classic 2016 (Boys) Watch Now
  3. Triad All-Star Classic Dunk Contest 2016 Watch Now
  4. Winston-Salem Prep (NC) vs. Middleburg Prep (VA) Watch Now
  5. West Forsyth HS (NC) vs. Forest Trail Academy (NC) Watch Now
  6. USA Prep National Championship: Legacy Charter (SC) vs. National Christian Academy (MD) Watch Now
  7. Forest Trail Academy (NC) vs. National Christian Academy (MD)  Watch Now
  8. Evelyn Mack (NC) vs. Faith Assembly (NC) Watch Now
  9. NC Top 80 2016, Game One Watch Now
  10. Mt. Zion (NC) vs. Standard of Excellence Academy (NY) Watch Now

For more updates and game announcements, be sure to follow us on Twitter @NetCastSports .

Saturday Night Live Dropping Commercials By 30%

Advertising Age recently reported that Saturday Night Live will be restructuring the program format in the upcoming (2016-17) season, dropping two commercial breaks.  The decrease in commercials for the 42nd season of the sketch comedy series equals a 30% reduction in commercial load for the program.

And for advertisers, NBC will also be offering a limited opportunity to partner with “SNL” to create original branded content. These native pods will only occur six times a year, Ms. Yaccarino said.

SNL is attempting to move more into the digital method of consuming content, where viewers often have more targeted, but fewer, advertisements when they view content. Although SNL still has attractive numbers and is poised into a 2016 election cycle, which normally means higher ratings, they still are not seeing year-over-year viewer growth:

“SNL” is averaging 6.4 million live-plus-same day viewers and a 1.9 rating in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic season-to-date, flat compared to the same period last year.

It will be interesting to see how SNL attempts to balance sponsored content with the cutting-edge parody and wit that they have become known for; they’ve definitely done it thus far but this is a new arena.

Cable “Ad Loads” Not Really Dropping

Saw this article this morning from Broadcasting & Cable about ad loads dropping slightly during the first quarter of 2016.  Ad loads (often called ‘commercial loads’) are basically how many ads are seen by viewers during a broadcast.

From the article, we see the difference between what broadcasters are saying will happen versus the reality:

Amid all the big talk by TV executives about improving viewer experience by reducing commercial loads in programming, there was only a 1% drop in ad loads during the first quarter, according to figures from Todd Juenger, analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.

1% is a tiny figure and digging down into the numbers a little more, we see that while some broadcasters like Viacom did reduce their commercial load on some of their channels, they increased it on others. The article notes Nickelodeon, which saw an increase of 8% in commercial load.

There are other factors in the numbers for commercial loads – some broadcasts like the Super Bowl have a lot more opportunity for ads and a lot more viewers, so that can skew the overall numbers. Still, it should be noted that while many analysts are stating that television advertising is dropping, many channels are actively increasing their commercial load.

This is relevant to us at NetCast Sports because our broadcasts do often have commercial advertising but while we are dealing with a similar medium to broadcast and cable television, our broadcasts are viewed on different platforms and the engagement is different. The experience the user expects is also different, although that adjusts over time. The amount of commercials being shown during some network and cable programming is significantly higher than what we have on NCSN and primarily that’s because we feel it infringes on the user experience.

At any rate, it’s an interesting note from very recent data that kind flies in the face of what many pundits have been saying in recent years; it’s not clear which trend may actually be the true direction at this point.

 

Fab 40 Game Two Posted

The second broadcast game replay from the 2016 Fab 40 Eastern NC Regional has been posted: http://www.netcastsports.com/Video/Watch/un2jRLvoqKg

As mentioned before there are technical issues with the replay that are not able to be resolved. We will continue working on the remaining two games and post them as soon as possible.

Thanks for your patience and please follow us on Twitter @NetCastSports for additional updates/announcements.