“Disney says skinny bundles have hurt ESPN,” Peter Kafka reports for Re/code. “Disney says skinny bundles will help ESPN.”
“No, that’s not a typo,” Kafka reports. “That’s a summation of Disney’s earnings call yesterday, when company officials repeatedly argued that the move to smaller pay TV packages had hurt ESPN — and that ESPN would grow by embracing smaller pay TV packages.”
“Disney says that the subscriber losses it has seen at ESPN, which it first started noting out loud last summer, come from people signing up for smaller pay TV packages, which don’t include ESPN,” Kafka reports. “Disney also says that it is pleased with the traction it is seeing from Sling TV, a Web-based skinny bundle — it offers a couple dozen channels for $20 a month — that includes ESPN. Sling isn’t a giant hit — it likely has no more than 500,000 subscribers — but Disney CEO Bob Iger and his lieutenants repeatedly called it out on Tuesday, suggesting that ESPN would be working with other skinny bundles in the future.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: As we’ve been saying for what seems like forever: 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, Christmas 2015, and the Chinese New Year, Apple might as well wait until they have a full dance card.
What others networks should be considered to be must-haves?
Beyond the Big Four, if you go by primetime ratings (total viewers), the top 20 U.S. cable networks are:
2. Fox News Channel
5. Discovery Channel
6. History Channel
11. Adult Swim
13. Cartoon Network
14. Food Channel
16. ABC Family
20. Investigation Discovery
Source: Nielsen estimates, Live plus-3 for Dec. 29, 2014 – Dec. 16, 2015 (M-Su 8-11 p.m.)