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ESPN Might Be Too Big for Its Own Good

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To borrow one of its advertising taglines, this is ESPN: a network as big as the leagues it covers. As a business, ESPN thrives because it is playing a different game than the big public-airwaves networks. NBC and CBS make money from advertising. ESPN does, too, but it takes in even more from cable-subscriber fees—an average of $4.69 per household per month, according to research firm SNL Kagan. Last February, ESPN entered its 100 millionth American home. By comparison, the next costliest national network, TNT, takes in just $1.16 from about as many homes. If this were Pop Warner, the refs would have called the mercy rule by now.

A new president, John...

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