ESPN loses 600K+ subscribers; we play Rutgers & Maryland

Submitted by TreyBurkeHeroMode on November 7th, 2016 at 6:09 PM

According to Nielsen, ESPN lost 621,000 cable subscribers in just one month.

So nice work, Jim Delany. The cable sports business model began imploding juuuuuust as you decided that the potential for slightly larger pots of money in the short term outweighed us doing meaningless things like playing games against Wisconsin or Nebraska or Minnesota.



November 7th, 2016 at 6:12 PM ^

I have no love for ESPN but I do like that the B1G gets paid a lot of money for TV rights.  I'm not sure why you are celebrating.  Loss of viewership will have big implications the next time the B1G renews its TV contracts.


November 7th, 2016 at 6:19 PM ^

I'm not celebrating, you make the same point I thought was implicit: Meltdown in cable revenues hurts the value of the B1G Network, B1G Network value is the only reason to have Maryland and Rutgers befouling our conference.

I like TV money for football because it means we can do non-revenue sports as well as keep the gameday atmosphere reasonably marketing-free (at least inside the bowl of the stadium), but I dislike the way the B1G decided to sell out everything the fans care about in favor of a revenue model that any reasonably-intelligent observer of media and technology trends could (and did) say was on its last legs.

I Like Burgers

November 7th, 2016 at 6:29 PM ^

Honestly, I know complaining about Delaney selling the soul of the Big Ten or whatever is a popular drum to beat, but it really isn't THAT bad.  He added Maryland and Rutgers at the same time all of the other conferences were expanding and at a time the Big Ten couldn't sit pat.

Maryland is fine.  No better or worse than having to play Purdue or Illinois or Northwestern.  They are also in a semi-talent rich part of the country so with the right coach (like Durkin) they can improve.

Rutgers on the other hand, is straight trash and will likely remain straight trash.  But each Big Ten team is getting millions a year for having them on their schedule, plus its usually an easy win.  And since the conference moved to 9 conf games a season after adding them, you're basically swapping a cupcake game you have to pay for vs. a Ball State or Toledo in exchange a cupcake game where you make a couple of million.

It ain't THAT bad.


November 7th, 2016 at 6:50 PM ^

Not sure whether to laugh or furrow my brow and wonder if that would've actually happened for one or both. Maryland actually would've given some geographic continuity & regional rivalry with West Virginia and obviously Rutgers = NEW YORK

(Then again, I'm not sure if leaving the solid ACC to go deal with Texas' ego in a far more unstable league would've happened)


November 7th, 2016 at 6:47 PM ^

at a time the Big Ten couldn't sit pat.

See, I hear this argument a lot but without seemingly any basis. The Big Ten was at 14 teams with a strong recent addition in Nebraska. Was the Big Ten in danger of being ripped apart if we didn't add Maryland and Rutgers? No, I don't think so.

I think the hate is that adding Rutgers was such a shameless cash-grab at the same time so many other people were just running for football money (TAMU/Mizzou to the SEC, the implosion of the Big East, etc.). It's just the cherry on top of short sighted expansion


November 8th, 2016 at 1:04 AM ^

The addition of Maryland and Rutgers, along with our move to the Big Ten East, has done nothing but help our recruiting in the fertile grounds of NJ and MD/DC/VA.  

We play in those areas every single year now, and are considered a "local" team.

Wisconsin and Nebraska probably have something to bitch about the addition of Maryland and Rutgers.

We do not.



November 7th, 2016 at 7:15 PM ^

Sure, we could have stood pat. All of those other conference expansions were driven by ephemeral TV dollars as well and many won't end well. Kudos to the Big 12 (words I never thought I'd write) for ending the insanity and not adding UCF or Cincy or whomever else they were considering recently just to grow for growth's sake.

True, it's just one game against Rutgers and one game against Maryland. But that's two games in a 12-game season where we're remarkably unlikely to have a decent football game to watch. Add in a body bag game or two early in the season and one or two more down-year B1G teams and all of a sudden, half the games on the schedule are dreck.

That's because Rutgers is straight trash, and Maryland hasn't been consistently good since the 1950s. (Notably, they're 2-37-1 all time against Penn State.) Virtually every single B1G school -- including Purdue and Northwestern -- has been higher-quality and more consistent than either of those schools over the past few decades. Hell, even Illinois managed to win the B1G in 2001 and never forget that Ron Zook went to a Rose Bowl.

About a third of the most popular college football teams in the country are Big Ten schools. We were not threatened with being kicked out of the BCS or FBS or whatever if we hadn't grown even bigger, and if we needed to grow for on-field "we need a championship game!" reasons rather than TV dollars then there were other options that have been hashed out elsewhere ad nauseam.


November 7th, 2016 at 8:05 PM ^

Honestly, I know complaining about Delaney selling the soul of the Big Ten or whatever is a popular drum to beat, but it really isn't THAT bad.

Yeah, it kind of is THAT bad.  I don't see conference realignment as a Pokemon game like many do ("we should add Texas, Oklahoma, UNC, and Georgia Tech!" say those people) and therefore I don't care if the conference adds a powerhouse or a cupcake.  What I do care about is the fact that college football's primary appeal is tradition, and over the past ten years, the powers that be have gone all Office-Space-printer on that tradition.  And then took a huge collective greasy diarrhea shit on it for good measure.  And Jim Delany is one of the primary ringleaders of the shit-on-tradition parade.  More games against Rutgers and Maryland means fewer games against the opponents we've measured ourselves against for a century.  Fewer games for the Little Brown Jug.  Six years in between games against Wisconsin.  Tradition doesn't stand a chance, not when someone will pay you to take a dump on it.

rob f

November 7th, 2016 at 6:31 PM ^

I'd miss that network terribly if I couldn't get their game broadcasts.

OP's post isn't a celebration of ESPN's lost subscribers, though. What he's pointing out is the folly of Delaney for his deal with the devil. Delaney sold the Big Ten's soul to satan, Rutgers and Maryland in exchange for the hope of reaping east coast TV sets and advertising dollar$.


November 8th, 2016 at 1:19 AM ^

No it won't.

As sports viewers, we are being heavily subsidized by everyone else.

I am able to watch every single Michigan game, every game that impacts Michigan, and every other game I just find interesting, for my one monthly cable fee.

When they break that up and a la carte all that . . . there's no way I will be able to afford to "just pay for the channels I watch."  Goodbye noon ACC game.  Goodbye 3:30 SEC East game.  Goodbye 10:30 Pac 12 game. 

We are in a golden age for college football viewing.

Celebrating its demise is just dumb.



November 8th, 2016 at 1:24 AM ^

Games only. Their programming is nothing but a rehash all day long merely playing to different demographics. In so doing, they assure themselves of viewership for one program only. No one is really interested in their "takes."  Hell, when we ran the train not one of their football "analysts" realized we were disguising personnel packages. After they read some blogs such as this they were then able to look smart by repeating what wise posters here might have typed;. 


November 7th, 2016 at 6:20 PM ^

Ever since ESPN decided to get in bed with the SEC I cannot take them as a serious news source for college football due to their bias.

My other sport is hockey which ESPN also puts on the back burner so I rarely visit their channel.


November 7th, 2016 at 11:40 PM ^

I am a casual hockey fan so I cant tell what is solid analysis and what is just crap, but I had always enjoyed Melrose.  Then I saw some segment with Melrose in a "bistro" and it was cheap looking, cheesy, and lame which is my feeling about most of ESPN.

I Like Burgers

November 7th, 2016 at 6:21 PM ^

Not so sure the sports bubble has popped yet.  Even in a cord cutter world, live sports is still pretty much the only thing that people will pay for AND advertisers crave.  And networks will still pay out the ass even with a reduced or relocated subscriber base when those deals come up in the future.

And on the other side of this, do you really think the SEC, Big Ten, NFL, NBA, etc will sell their rights at a reduced cost just because networks are complaining about less viewers?  Only way to get them to lower their rights fees is for all of the networks, plus new players like Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, etc to collude and that will never, ever, ever happen.

Leaders And Best

November 7th, 2016 at 6:30 PM ^

I know it is popular on here to bash on conference expansion, but personally, I think the Maryland addition is going to be OK over the long run. I think I would rather have Maryland in the conference than a handful of other Big Ten schools.

Unfortunately, they get lumped in with Rutgers in this discussion.


November 7th, 2016 at 6:59 PM ^

I tend to agree with you here - of the two newcomers to the conference, I will admit that the more I thought about it when it happened, I actually didn't mind Maryland so much even though they - as a school - were clearly motivated by money above a lot of other things given the state of their athletic department at the time. Of the two, I had some faith that Maryland could get their football team into serviceable shape like their basketball and other teams. I had so such confidence in Rutgers. 


November 7th, 2016 at 7:24 PM ^

I think Maryland had a better chance of this before they joined the B1G. Now, they're Purdue East. If you're good enough to be a quality Big Ten football player, why would you do it at Maryland?

Sure, there's the occasional guy who just wants to play for "his" school. But there's very few kids who grew up dreaming of putting on the red and yellow and black and white and...what is that, some kind of metallic grayish-orange? of Maryland Football. Rather, what that "rich talent pool" is going to get growing up is a half-dozen views a year of the Big House and Horseshoe and Happy Valley and Camp Randall where the Terps are getting steamrollered.


November 7th, 2016 at 7:39 PM ^

Maryland has the #15 class in the country right now. That's fueled primarily by players from the DMV. Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa have nowhere near the recruiting base that Maryland does and they will never be able to recruit that well.  If I had to guess what 2nd tier program in the B1G can rise up into the league's 1st tier in the next 3 years, it would be Maryland.  

rob f

November 7th, 2016 at 8:49 PM ^

recruits well enough in Chicagoland to stay ahead of Maryland.  And their track record is much, much better than Maryland's over the last few decades, which in turn will get the attention of recruits far more easily than Maryland can.  

Realistically, Maryland will much more often than not  compete with the likes of IU and Rutgers (and even MSU) to escape the B1G East cellar, while Wisconsin should nearly always be in the running for the B1G West crown.


November 7th, 2016 at 11:16 PM ^

for the fact wiscy was ripping off B1G titles left and right and still couldnt improve their recruiting. They win through development and solid coaching, they never recruited as well as MD is now.

rob f

November 8th, 2016 at 9:55 AM ^

can be sustained when he can't break through to the upper levels of the B1G East. As much as I hate to say it, Dantonio has too strong a program to have this season be anything more than an aberration. And if PSU can sustain what's building there, that means 5th place is the ceiling for Maryland most seasons.

Will recruits still listen to Durkin after a few seasons of mediocrity and 5th or 6th place East finishes? I doubt it.

Maryland is the Illini of the East, at best.


November 7th, 2016 at 7:24 PM ^

Agreed. Maryland adds a lot more from a name brand and overall athletics performance standpoint. If we were starting from scratch and there was no Big Ten, people would much prefer Maryland to teams like Northwestern or Purdue who have small fanbases and minimal success in the big sports

Blue Balls Afire

November 7th, 2016 at 6:43 PM ^

I don't understand the level of disdain Delaney receives on this board.  As others have said, Delaney's efforts have put gobs of money in every conference team that allows it to compete (at least in terms of resources) with any school in the country (for the most part).  Because of Delaney and his shaping of the conference revenue structure, the B1G is not going the way of the Big 12.  The B1G network is on sound footing and the sale of other TV rights is betther than any other conference's (I believe).  Yeah, it sucks to have Rutgers in the conference, but if it means securing millions for each team, not having the conference splinter apart in realignment, and being ahead of the revenue curve against every other conference, I can live with that.  Also, what's the difference of going to 9 conference games a year and having Rutgers on the schedule than to have 8 conference games and scheduling your (non-Appalachian State) FCS creampuff in the early non-conference?  And who knows, Rutgers might find their next Schiano and turn things around.