ESPN now has about 88 million pay TV subscribers -- down from a mid-90 million level just a few years ago, and 100 million in 2011, according to Nielsen estimates.
However, by another measure, ESPN pulled in $2.7 billion in national advertising sales, according to iSpot.tv -- looking at the recent period from April 2016 to April 2017. This is 8% higher versus some $2.5 billion in the previous year period.
Big advertisers for the current year period include: Taco Bell ($50.9 million), Toyota ($45.4 million), State Farm ($40.4 million), AT&T Wireless ($38.4 million); Verizon ($36.6 million); Nissan ($35.4 million); GEICO ($35.1 million); Capital One ($34.6 million); GMC ($34.4 million); and Warner Bros. ($31.2 million).
Currently, ESPN charges $7.21 per subscriber to cable, satellite, and telco pay TV providers -- the most expensive cable network -- according to S&P Global Market Intelligence’s SNL Kagan.
This is up sharply from the $4.69-per-subscriber level six years ago in 2011.