Here are some of my concerns about ESPN that lie even beyond the cord cutting issues:
The American consumer is now over-saturated with sports.
Professional sports ratings are down for the third year in a row.
Consumers are no longer, with consistency, watching entire sporting events. More and more, with less time available in the day, consumers are instead watching highlights on ESPN.com and elsewhere, rather than the complete games. (Participation in the sport of golf -- which takes over four hours for a round -- has faced the same problem for a decade now.)
It seems as if every commentator on ESPN is vying to become the next Chris Berman. (There was only one Berman). To me that copycat approach is annoying -- viewers want to watch a game and not their commentary in which moderators are trying to outdo each other. As Steve Young once said, "Sports on TV is not calculus. It is authenticity. That's what you got from Chris."
There is a high implied price for the ESPN portion of the cable/satellite TV bundle relative to the reduced need for the service.
Disney's shares have continued to perform poorly over the last few months. ESPN's troubles make it hard to see Disney shares reversing that course.
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At the time of publication, Kass and/or his funds were long/short Disney, although holdings can change at any time.
Doug Kass is the president of Seabreeze Partners Management Inc. Under no circumstances does this information represent a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security.