ESPN ratings down as Fox Sports 1 prepares for launch

July 9, 2013

Sports Business Daily reports that ESPN ratings averaged 1.3 million viewers in prime time during the Second Quarter of this year.  The ratings reveal a substantial drop in ratings from the same time last year.

Earlier this year, ESPN laid off a portion of its staff and ESPN’s parent company, Disney, was downgraded by Goldman Sachs.  According to Bloomberg, ESPN provides 45 percent of Disney operating income.  ESPN faces rising sports broadcasting rights fees and the emergence of a new competitor in Fox Sports 1.  It’s anticipated that ESPN will now be competing for rights fees with FS1 which will drive up prices.  Notably, ESPN’s NBA and NASCAR rights fees are up next year.  We all know that the UFC signed a 7 year contract with Fox in 2011.  While analysts have looked down on Disney stock, analysts have been bullish on 21st Century Fox due in part to the launch of Fox Sports 1.

Looking at the numbers, ESPN is down 32% in ratings from 2012 when it posted viewership of almost a 2 million viewer average in primetime (which was up from 2011 (1.6 million)).  The Sports Business Daily indicates that this year’s decrease may have been due to the NBA Playoff teams in the Western Conference Finals (Spurs-Grizzlies).  Last year, ESPN had the rights to the Eastern Conference Finals when it was the Heat-Celtics in an exciting 7 game series.  This year, the Spurs swept Memphis.

Conversely, NBC Sports Network saw an increase from the same time last year.  It received an average of 619,000 in 2013 up from 530,000 in 2012.  This was due to the huge popularity of the NHL playoffs.

Its also worthy to note, that Speed TV (which will convert to FS1 in August) saw a decrease in ratings.  In 2013, it received 206,000 viewers in Q2 but received 226,000 viewers in 2012.  It still ranked fourth among cable sports networks in terms of prime time ratings for Q2.

Fuel TV ranked second to last (right before Fox Soccer) in cable sports network prime time viewership for Q2 with an increase from 2012.  This year it received a prime time average of 45,000 viewers from 39,000 last year.

Payout Perspective:

Based on the internal and external struggles of ESPN, its a good time for Fox Sports 1 to launch.  We are starting to see subtle signs that ESPN is drawing back on its UFC coverage.  Was there an ESPN “car wash” for this event?  Weidman appeared on the Jim Rome Show but not on any ESPN outlets that one can remember pre-UFC 162.  There was no substantial coverage of the Weidman-Silva fight especially since it was such a shocking upset.  On Monday, ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption co-host Michael Wilbon criticized the UFC for not allowing ESPN to air the finish of the fight so that they could discuss it on PTI.  To ESPN’s credit, Chris Weidman was scheduled to make an appearance on ESPN News on Tuesday night.  Of course, that’s ESPN News. All of this can be just scrutinizing one event too much but we shall see how the UFC is covered by ESPN once it goes full time on FS1.

42 Responses to “ESPN ratings down as Fox Sports 1 prepares for launch”

  1. BrainSmasher on July 9th, 2013 11:43 PM

    I was wondering why so many talented people have left ESPN. Michelle Beadle left SportsNation. Jim Rome is gone again. Erin Andrews has also left ESPN and so has Rachel Nichols. Recently Charissa Thompson has left SportsNation to go to Fox Sports 1.

    I lost all respect for ESPN when I saw how they handled MMA and the UFC. I guess I was gullible and thought ESPN covered what the people wanted and brought those people sports. BUt as we saw when the UFC was talking with them. They only give you the time of day and credit you as a sport, ONLY if they own you. This is why we see no MMA news or highlights or coverage at all. But look how much X Games stuuf is shoved down peoples throats just because they control it. Even the spelling Bee gets a lot of hype only because they own it. There isn’t any integrity to really cover sports and there never was.

    I try to avoid ESPN for the most part. I try to watch after a UFC event to see what is said. But rarely see anything. All that was shown after this event was a short clip of the fight and Weidman interview for about 10 seconds. Then on First and 10 they showed Weidman challenging Stephen A Smith. Less than a handful of people at ESPN know anything about MMA. So any mention of it is laughed off like ” I wouldn’t get in the cage with him” and they move on. No discussion about the main event. No other fight was mentioned. It is useless. Meanwhile they will get on another sports issue and beat it into the ground even when there is nothing let to say. They will send the next 2 weeks talking about Dwight Howard going to Houston.

  2. BrainSmasher on July 9th, 2013 11:54 PM

    Now allowing anyone the rights to air the finish to the Silva fight is a double edge sword. However I think it was a good decision. No one expected this PPV to be huge given the unknown nature of Weidman. But pretty much everyone who mattered knew or suspected Chris would win. So the real money is in the rematch. That said. Allowing these sports shows to show the ending of the fight would just mislead people and discredit Weidman. Because all they would show is the knock out. None of those people would ever see how that fight was going up to that point. So they would all discredit Weidman and it would kill the interest in the rematch. As it was they had to use other footage, most of which was Silva getting beat on. It also in a way doesn’t make Silva look as bad. Which helps the rematch and if by some miracle he wins the rematch and is champ again.

    But it did cause Wilbon to go off and compare it to Boxing thinking it was a decision based on greed. I think we can all agree the UFC doesn’t much hardly any money on next day PPV sales. even fewer would be effected by the highlights. It was more of a issue of Wlbon and Kornheiser being old and never liked MMA and admit they don’t under stand it. Of course they never said a word when Boxing does it every single event and ESPN are running round by round scoring and still photos for that very same reason.

  3. Tops of on July 10th, 2013 3:55 AM

    Before it was “in the know” now it’s everyone who mattered”….wow b.s. you belong to a very exclusive club…Dana’s disciples/UFC fanboy….the who’s who in the fanboy world the movers and shakers………hahaha….the Trekkies of 2013!!….when’s your convention? Haha

  4. Tops of on July 10th, 2013 4:10 AM

    Mark hunt on UFC pay

    well i don’t now bout where they got there figures from but it must be true lol

    this is really crap man i need a pay rise (sic) how can some of these other gooons (sic) get more than me hahahahai been cheated again,why anyone would want to be a ufc fighter if this is how much we get paid.

    More fighters are going to talk….great!! Expose the cheap ass promotion

  5. duck on July 10th, 2013 5:45 AM

    Mark Hunt was replying to reporting his pay, that wasn’t correct and Hunt jokingly replied saying he needed a raise.

  6. BrainSmasher on July 10th, 2013 6:51 AM

    So Tops was being a lying stupid ass by making stuff up and taking it out of ccontext. Imagine that! What a lifeless loser!

  7. Sampson Simpson on July 10th, 2013 7:32 AM

    Dana White aka BRAINSMASHER cries

  8. Diego on July 10th, 2013 9:21 AM

    “Of course they never said a word when Boxing does it every single event and ESPN are running round by round scoring and still photos for that very same reason.”

    It’s true. I remember trying to watch highlights of Tyson fights back in the day and all they had were a few stills. They never showed you the video of the KO. I don’t know if that’s changed or not, but I seldom check out ESPN for news updates these days anyway.

  9. Aintitthetruth on July 10th, 2013 10:47 AM

    From Sherdog: Panel of peers pegs middleweight boss Anderson Silva as nearly a 2-to-1 favorite over Chris Weidman in the UFC 162 main event.

    Lets not try to rewrite history. Silva was also the odds on favorite. Anyone who matters? You truely are BS.

  10. Aintitthetruth on July 10th, 2013 10:49 AM

    BS you are a troll. And congrats on sucking me in. But I had opinions before you came along. You are just the court jester whose posts I like to skim and pick a piece off, rather than read the whole thing, and argue against because they are full of one sided drivel. Kind of like pealing a piece of paint off of a dilapidated paint-job.

  11. Aintitthetruth on July 10th, 2013 11:02 AM

    It sure seems to be making the rounds, and the UFC is in damage control mode. Apparently it was not from

  12. Sampson Simpson on July 10th, 2013 12:04 PM

    Even if the UFC paid every fighter 10 million per year some would still complain. Thats just how it is

  13. BrainSmasher on July 10th, 2013 4:09 PM

    LOL you quote Bloody Elbow? They took a joke and tries to turn it into a serious article. Here is the problem. Why would Hunts career Earnings have anything to do with the UFC when he has spent his entire career in K-1 and Pride? HE hasn’t been in the UFC even 3 years. He is also 4-7 in his last 11 fights and only 4-1 in the UFC. BE needed a story to pile on to all the loser UFC rejects pay comments. So they tried to twist what Hunt said because it is a hot issue and that have not material. Funny how you get sucked right into it. Sheep like you are a danger to society. You cant think for yourself. So piss poor scumbag media are rewarded when people like you gobble up their BS.

  14. Tops of on July 10th, 2013 6:23 PM

    Hahaha….how original b.s. …your the one who can’t think for himself….ur a Dana follower….

    Hunt had six fights in the UFC….have anything to do with UFC?Well Brock lesnar had 7 fights 4-3…so his earnings dosent have anything to do with the UFC as well?He got his belt on his 3rd fight…lol…

  15. Tops of on July 10th, 2013 6:24 PM

    Don’t downplay mark hunts participation I the UFC…he is a UFC fighter…in fact fought number 1 contender and former champ Jds….

  16. aintitthetruth on July 10th, 2013 9:01 PM

    My heart sank when he lost to mckorckle. I’m glad he made it so high after being so low. he has a few more big fights in him. Him vs nog is a pride nostalgia big money fight.

  17. BrainSmasher on July 10th, 2013 9:32 PM

    Joe Riggs fought the UFC champ too. I guess he should be a millionaire too?

    Here is a good way to settle what Hunt is worth. Lets have Brock and Hunt fight and see who deserves the money. That’s right. Even now without training. Brock would wear Hunt like a Dick ring. Brock beat top level fighters. Hunt only beat gate keeper strikers.

  18. BrainSmasher on July 10th, 2013 9:43 PM

    BTW. I was online talking MMA and UFC, training, and going to MMA fights including UFC events when Dana was still teaching Boxercise classes. Funny thing is even Boxercise is useless and everyone has switched to MMA fitness training. Another sign of how outdated Boxing is. The only fans who watch boxing only do so because it is the only sport that the athletes gets their brains beat to mush to the point they share an IQ level. Maybe Boxers slur and stutter their speak and talk slowly, not because of brain damage. But it is so they can communicate with their fans? This whole time I though they were messed up and it was in fact their fans who had the brain damage. Go figure. Thank you Sampson, Tops, and Aintitthetruth. Without you guys coming here I never would have realized that.

  19. Tops of on July 10th, 2013 9:54 PM

    Good idea.Solomonic solution B.s….shows your infinite wisdom
    …ok setup the fight b.s. call your ufcfanboys crew(in the know).call your pal Brock .and make the fight happen haha…then we can settle what hunt is worth hahaha….

  20. aintitthetruth on July 10th, 2013 10:14 PM

    Weren’t you referencing “a punch drunk baroni”? You need to be able to keep your story straight. Boxers can have literally a hundred amateur fights. not so with mma. Just like it is possible for a boxer to win hundreds of millions of dollars. not so with mma. So yeah they are bound to get brain damage more. You are heartless towards mma fighters yet you actually reference the boxers ailments as an argument for mma? “they signed the contract” and “fighters come and go” and more of bs` tired rationales are applicable here. I’ll take brain damage for 100million. Odd ne less inclined for 1 or 2 million. I don’t need to remeber everything that happened yesterday for even fifty million because id live a lifetime in a couple years haha. Plus I would always know that i’m rich and famous. A punch drunk baronial can’t say that. I wish baroni had millions he was a great fighter. He got screwed twice vs tanner. Plus he got obsessed with the knockout.

  21. aintitthetruth on July 10th, 2013 10:19 PM

    Id be, not odd ne…

  22. aintitthetruth on July 10th, 2013 10:29 PM

    Plus, despite all your accolades you never fought. BS is just another never was pundit who can’t prove what he is made of because he is a sissy.

  23. Tops of on July 11th, 2013 4:33 AM

    Really b.s. you have been training since the time seg owned UFC?that was a long time ago….training for what? Haha…So that little kids would stop picking on you….

  24. Machiel Van on July 11th, 2013 2:27 PM

    ESPN is a non-factor as far as MMA media, but that was their choice. Not a big fan of the various arms of Disney these days.

  25. BrainSmasher on July 11th, 2013 6:03 PM

    Sean McCorkle already showed us what Hunt was worth lmao!

    Yes I called Baroni punch drunk. Meaning he cant take a punch anymore. Not that he has mush brains like boxers do. He can speak coherently if you excuse the New York accent.

  26. BrainSmasher on July 11th, 2013 6:16 PM

    I have fought just not in sport. I have also sparred with some of the best fighters in the world. So I know perfectly well what I am made of. And its a lot stronger than what you are made of.

    Yes I started training when I graduated HS in 2000. See, not everyone is a TUF noob like you. Well I take that back. “TUF Noobs” have been around long enough to know about the sport and many are what I consider hardcore fans and no longer noobs. However you have never learned anything about the sport. So you are still a noob or just a lifeless troll. Pathetic to be either to be honest.

    As for why I started training. I have always loved fighting. I stopped watching WWF when I was 12 when I come to terms with it being fake. I started following MMA religiously in 1995-1996. So when I was able to train I did so. But it was a hobby and a passion to me. Not a source of income. Up until recently when money has become part of the sport. I felt becoming a pro fighter was tantamount to going into the Military. Mainly for people who have no direction or options in life. At least Military is a family tradition for some so I wouldn’t say all people go into the Military for those reason. But many do, my friends being among them and it made them much better people and successful adults. No fighters today got into for financial reasons. Unless they are morons. There are lots of talented athletes and fighters who didn’t pursue professional fighting. I know that is hard for you to believe.

  27. Tops of on July 11th, 2013 8:52 PM

    Brain smasher your fighting pedigree has the right foundation….the WWF!!!haha….

  28. aintitthetruth on July 11th, 2013 10:06 PM

    punch drunk doesn’t exactly mean you can’t take s punch. It means your speech is slurred from the punches. Obviously you haven’t been around the block enough to know basic lingo.

  29. aintitthetruth on July 12th, 2013 1:04 AM

    And you can’t use a broad paintbrush like that. a top boxer with an olympic pedigree can expect to have big paydays, maybe even millions. An mma guy with whatever credentials can’t say that. See jake rosholt as an example. One of the best college wrestlers ever and he is fighting for peanuts. Let’s see how far bubba jenkins is will make it. I wonder how much he is making? 5k a fight? Laughable when if a boxer had an amateur career that good he would get way more out of the gate working for top rank or goldenboy.

  30. aintitthetruth on July 12th, 2013 1:08 AM

    Oh yeah I am a tuf noob bs,because I was 7 years old in 96 you old burnout.

  31. Tops of on July 12th, 2013 6:22 AM

    At 12 you came to terms that WWF is fake? Hahaha….that’s pretty old to realize its fake….no wonder you hostile towards anything negative being said about the UFC…after believing WWF was real and realizing its put all your beliefs in the UFC….so any negative news about the UFC brings you back to the WWF memories……oh no it’s WWF all over again! Lol

  32. BrainSmasher on July 12th, 2013 12:16 PM

    At that time WWF didn’t admit it was fake like they do today. I suspected it was fake long before that. But wasn’t sure due to some of the elements being real like the blood and fat guys jumping on you. Even at that age I knew enough to know Boxing was garbage.

  33. Tops of on July 12th, 2013 12:56 PM

    ….excuses excuses…stop changing what you said….you were 12 when you came to terms that WWF was fake….must be heartbreaking for you huh? Embarrasing for sure Lol….your like the only kid your age who still believe that it’s real….bunch of 9 and 11 year olds were laughing at you….”its real because there’s real blood” was your argument to the younger kids hahaha

    So how old would you be before you realize that Dana is a bullshitter who lies all the time and make a fool out of dana disciple/UFC fanboys like you?…when your 50?

  34. Sampson Simpson on July 12th, 2013 2:40 PM

    ” I suspected it was fake long before that. But wasn’t sure due to some of the elements being real like the blood and fat guys jumping on you ” – Dana White



  35. BrainSmasher on July 12th, 2013 10:08 PM

    Both of you still watch it and think it is real. Not surprising. Both of you still think there is real competitive fights in boxing. Every guy is taking the easiest fight possible and you dopes sell your food stamps to buy the PPV because they convinced you it would be a tough fight. Truth was still wearing diapers then. HE has no clue what wrestling was like them. It wasn’t the same as it is today dumbass’! There also wasn’t any real fighting to compare it to. No one knew what “Real” looked like. Lots of media in the 80’s thought it was real also.

  36. Tops of on July 13th, 2013 1:56 AM

    Oh everybody knew what a real fight looked like….your the only one at 12 that still beleived that it was true lol…don’t turn the tables on us you cannot erase what you said that up until 12 years you were still a WWF believer……hahaha….fat guys jumping on you? What the hell…..hahaha…

  37. Aintitthetruth on July 13th, 2013 2:33 AM

    I watched WWF, and I thought it was mostly real up until I was about 9-10. What got me scratching my head was how come “The worlds most dangerous man” could hold his “ankle lock” for like 5 minutes on a guy, and they could still walk the next week. Also when the guys from the loony bin came to take Kane away I knew this kidnapping of a grown man couldn’t be real. Brainsmasher you are 2-3 years behind the learning curve… at least. Oh yeah NWO>All hahahaha. FOR LIFE!

  38. BrainSmasher on July 13th, 2013 4:42 PM

    You are talking about a decade later when it was well known it was fake and everyone was open and knew about it. There was no Ken Shamrock or “Worlds most dangerous man”. At about 10 years old I started to lose interest. IT was no longer entertaining to me because I had doubts it was real. I suspected it was fake but wanted it to be real. BUt at 13 I knew it was fake and come to terms with it. From that point on I can no longer watch it. The matches do not bother me. Its the fake arguing with no real competitive resolve. I wish I could enjoy it. But it just bothers me to much.

    When I was little. My only favorite wrestlers was the Road Warriors. Since I stopped watching in 1992-1993. I have only seen it a few times. Because I have/had friends that were into it. I knew when the WWE had the “Brawl for it All” real Toughman Contest with Wrestlers. I watched many of those matches. I watched 1 match when LOD 2000 was introduced. Because I was with friends who watched RAW every Monday. I knew some of the things that were going on in the late 90’s with Stone Cold and NWO stuff. But never watched many matches or paid much attention to it. I was also able to catch my favorite MMA fighter. Tank Abbott’s wrestling match vs his friend Big Al. That’s pretty much my Pro Wrestling experience in the last 20 years.

  39. Tops of on July 14th, 2013 12:24 AM

    Changing your story again….at 12 when you came to terms that it was fake…..

  40. BrainSmasher on July 14th, 2013 8:42 PM

    I never changed my story. It was never an exact date. It was a approximation. One of these days when you stop watching children’s Pro Wrestling. Maybe you will struggle to remember when you stopped watching it.

  41. Tops of on July 15th, 2013 2:32 AM

    Yes you did….at 12 when you came to terms that it was fake…..

  42. aintitthetruth on July 15th, 2013 3:30 AM

    Right, at 13 he finally realised it was fake. That’s even worse BROTHER.

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