• In this Nov. 3, 2015, file photo, workers install an ESPN Monday Night Football banner before an NFL football game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens in Cleveland. The sports network that drives Disney’s profit engine has hit a soft patch as people cut the cord to watch programming online. It's a sign of one of TV’s biggest challenges: the ever-increasing cost of sports rights and whether consumers want to keep footing the bill. (AP Photo/David Richard, File)

    Sports costs at ESPN weigh down Disney’s Force-ful quarter

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — ESPN, the sports network that drives Disney’s profit engine, has hit a soft patch. Subscribers have fallen by about 7.2 million over the last three years, according to Nielsen, and it’s coming off a round of layoffs in the latest quarter. As more people cut the cord to watch programming online, its perch on top of the pay TV empire is looking unsteady at best.