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Volume 25 No. 4
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ESPN Claims Nielsen Estimates Of Subscriber Losses Don't Account For New Outlets

ESPN is trying to put a positive spin on Nielsen’s latest estimates that have the network losing 1.176 million subscribers in the past two months. That brings ESPN’s subscriber total to 88.4 million, down from a high of 100.187 million in May '11. In response to the subscriber drop off and blog posts suggesting that ESPN’s struggles are greater than other sports networks, ESPN released a statement saying, “We remain at the forefront of the industry, and no one is navigating change better than Disney and ESPN.” The point behind ESPN’s statement it that it has deals with Sling, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now and Hulu that are not counted in the Nielsen sample. While those subscriber gains do not match what is being lost from cable and satellite operators, they do not show up in Nielsen. ESPN also believes it has an advantage in the digital arena, saying that its programs see an 8-10% viewership lift when streams and out-of-home audiences are added to TV numbers.