ESPN President: We are in ongoing conversations with Apple

“These days, ESPN faces two questions more than any others: When are you going to go ‘over the top’ by offering the sports network to cord-cutters?” Amol Sharma and Shalini Ramachandran report for The Wall Street Journal. “And how are you possibly going to make enough money in the future to cover ever-rising sports rights payments if cable subscribers are declining?”

“John Skipper, the network’s president, outlined in an interview with The Wall Street Journal why the sports behemoth won’t be making a sudden move to offer its traditional TV channels outside the cable bundle,” Sharma and Ramachandran report. “But that doesn’t mean the company isn’t on the offensive in the streaming TV world, he noted.”

WSJ: In your view, will the people who sign up for streaming TV services from Sony, Sling TV, and possibly Apple make up for losses in traditional pay TV subscribers?

Mr. Skipper: We think that it can be a significant mover in helping us navigate the next few years. We see the Sling TV numbers, which are significant. We’ve had discussions with Apple. I believe in 2016 there will be further announcements on other kinds of packages… that will get younger subscribers into the market. We don’t think of it as an offset. It was simple before when we had subscription and television ad revenues. Now we’ve got more buckets. We have new direct-to-consumer, digital advertising [revenues].

WSJ: Does Apple have a path to being a player in the TV industry?

Mr. Skipper: They are creating a significantly advantageous operating system and a great television experience and that television experience is fabulous for sports. We are big proponents of believing it would be a fabulous place to sell some subscriptions. We have ongoing conversations. They have been frustrated by their ability to construct something which works for them with programmers. We continue to try to work with them.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Tick tock.

As we’ve stated many times: Apple’s Internet TV service will have to have ESPN. It will also likely require the “Big Four” networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) – although it could launch with three out of four and eventually hammer out a deal with whichever one is being the most reticent. That said, having already missed the launch of the new Apple TV, Apple might as well wait until they have a full dance card.

Beyond the Big Four, if you go by ratings (total viewers), the top 20 cable networks are:

2. USA
3. TNT
4. Disney
5. TBS
6. History
7. Fox News
8. FX
9. Discovery
10. AMC
11. HGTV
12. Adult Swim
13. Nick at Nite
14. A&E
15. ABC Family
16. Lifetime
17. Syfy
18. Food
19. TLC
20. Bravo

Source: Nielsen estimates, full year 2014

Apple cuts the cord on Internet TV plans – December 17, 2015
Apple, TV networks clash over size and makeup of Internet TV bundle – December 9, 2015
Apple debuts new Apple TV ad, ‘The Future of Television’ – December 9, 2015
Greedy media companies stymie Apple’s plan to offer Apple TV Internet TV package – December 9, 2015
CBS CEO Moonves says Apple puts live TV service ‘on hold’ – December 8, 2015
Fox’s James Murdoch, CBS’s Les Moonves hint at looming Apple Web TV service launch – November 5, 2015
CBS CEO Moonves says Apple TV content deal is likely – October 14, 2015
CBS CEO: We’re still in negotiations with Apple over new Internet TV service – May 27, 2015


  1. ESPN through direct subscription on Apple TV would be a game changer. Many folks I know who cut the cord with cable, eventually went back because of sports. They can get just about everything else they want through streaming, but not sports. ESPN direct to Apple TV without a cable subscription will change the universe.

  2. That list would satisfy everyone in my family. I wouldn’t even think about “cutting the cord” without ESPN and a lineup that included most of these channels. More than happy with my current TiVo setup.

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