It’s only been about 3 months since ESPN’s last press release downplaying the impact of cord cutting and they are at it again. Not only does the latest press release again downplay the impact of cord cutting, but this one goes a step further suggesting that the threat is actually shrinking!
Thou doth protest too much.
If cord cutting is no threat, why are they issuing quarterly press releases reminding us as much? Is it fishy that ESPN keeps announcing all these very long term media rights deals (SEC, ACC, Texas, etc) around the time when they are so closely examining the impact of cord cutting? Why would any party enter into a long term rights arrangement when one or both parties have so little insight into something as key as the defensibility of those rights? One could speculate that ESPN is trying to lock up content partners before any structural weaknesses might appear.
Maybe it isn’t a weakness, but in the last 48 hours this cord cutter found a high quality, commercial free version of ESPN’s 30 For 30 Fab Five presentation uploaded to YouTube. And I literally didn’t even have to search for it.
Just as I was wondering why I hadn’t seen any links to any Fab Five streams, I saw that fellow Sports Business blogger Colin O’Keefe Tweeted that very question. I ReTweeted Colin (while I was not home) and someone had replied, pointing us to the high quality feed on Youtube all before before I got home. I literally could not have checked a TV Guide faster. I’m not sure how ESPN doesn’t see this as a threat since it’s clearly not available online at their main properties.
Oh well. The story continues to get more and more interesting.