How ESPN Makes Money—in 1 Graph

Nearly two-thirds of its enormous revenue comes from your monthly cable payments.
More
570_Football_Bloody_Face_Reuters.jpg
Reuters

With the most valuable portfolio of sports rights in the country, ESPN is the envy of the television ecosystem. But how will it make money in the future? The exact same way it makes money now, ESPN President John Skipper told the Aspen Ideas Festival on Friday. With a simple formula. Two-thirds TV subscription fees plus one-third advertising.

Here's what that means. Every month, you pay a cable bill. Let's say it's $80. The channels on your menu get a sliver of that $80. It's called a subscription fee. ESPN gets the biggest cut: about $5 per month. That's $60 a year, per pay-TV household, before advertising.

The company will make more than $10 billion in revenue in 2013, according to an analyst note from Wunderlich Securities in November 2012. Here's what all that money looks like (breakdown is from Wunderlich and not from ESPN).

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 11.58.05 AM.png

As a brand, ESPN is everywhere. On your phone, on your laptop, on magazine stands. But as a revenue-generating company, it's all about the television business.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In