While ESPN was easily the top sports cable network in prime time in 2016, and No. 2 among all cable networks for the year, the network’s audience level dipped under an average of 2 million viewers for the first time since 2007. ESPN has been the No. 2 cable network in prime time on an annual basis each of the past three years. Meanwhile, ESPN2 in 2016 was at its lowest level in at least a decade, with its prime-time audience down 46 percent from where it was 10 years ago.
For total-day viewership in 2016, ESPN and ESPN2 both finished with their lowest levels in at least a decade. ESPN was No. 8 among all cable networks on a 24-hour basis, while ESPN2 fell for a seventh straight year.