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ESPN pays $2 billion a year to the NFL for Monday Night Football and one NFL wild card playoff game. I’ve written for the past couple of years that as ESPN’s business collapses that ESPN’s decision on whether or not to bid to keep Monday Night Football would be the first big test of how rapidly that business is deteriorating.

What’s a deteriorating business look like? In the month of October ESPN lost over 15,000 subscribers a day in October per the latest Nielson estimates.

Another way to put this would be as follows: ESPN’s business is collapsing so rapidly that they are now trying to figure out which would be more destructive — losing billions on the NFL or losing billions in cable and satellite revenue because they don’t have the NFL. This won’t be a negotiation, it will be a hold up where ESPN tries to beg the cable and satellite companies not to take all the money out of their wallets because they need the bus fare to get home. Put simply, ESPN’s business is screwed and they’re trying to make it look like that’s a good thing by leaking this story to a friendly source.

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