Discussion:
Would You Pay For ESPN As A Premium Channel?
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TMC
2011-09-13 22:55:57 UTC
Permalink
http://awfulannouncing.com/2011-articles/september/would-you-pay-for-espn-as-a-premium-channel.html

Written by Ryan Yoder | 13 September 2011

The news of ESPN's mammoth new deal with the NFL to secure Monday
Night Football and other program was obviously good news for the
WorldWide Leader. As Matt pointed out, the amount of money ESPN will
pay over the next 10 years is astronomical, in the neighborhood of $14
Billion. And while it's nice to think about the consequences of
ESPN's saturating their NFL coverage even more, or how many more times
Jaws will casually curse on the air, there is one person that hasn't
been considered much in the wake of ESPN's deal with the NFL... and
that would be you, the consumer.

It's been speculated by many that ESPN will force cable companies to
raise their prices to help pay for a small chunk of that $14 Billion.
Of course, as ESPN has grown throughout the years, they've been able
to demand more and more money from cable companies, which in turn, has
caused cable companies to raise their prices on consumers. Now, by no
means am I an expert on the economics of cable and satellite
providers, but a rights contract this massive does give cause for
pause. Heck, ESPN president George Bodenheimer basically admitted the
network would ask for more money from cable/satellite providers in the
wake of the new NFL deal.

I know this might be difficult since you're currently reading a sports
blog, but imagine yourself a television viewer who NEVER watches
ESPN. Is it fair that the increasing demand of sports fans could
potentially raise your monthly cable bill? Apparently something
called the American Cable Association does care, and they're prepared
to raise some hell. Matt Polka, president of the ACA was quoted in
Politico... (linking Politico on a sports blog, who knew?)

“There’s no doubt that sports programming is very popular. But people
should be able to choose whether or not they want to pay for it on a
monthly basis... Non-sports fans are subsidizing the cost for sports
fans,” said Polka, who represents 1,000 small cable companies. If
these costs keep going up, lawmakers and policymakers are going to get
involved … and ESPN isn’t going to like it."

Polka goes on to suggest that all cable/satellite customers already
pay around $5 per month for ESPN and ESPN2, which could rise to help
the WWL pay for the new NFL contract. Due to the rising price, Polka
and the ACA want to pressure cable providers (with the help of
Congress and the FCC if necessary) to place ESPN on a premium "sports
tier" instead of part of a basic cable package...

Now, keep in mind, the American Cable Association only represents some
rural and small-market cable providers, not large conglomerates like
Time Warner or Comcast. Let's face it, this is like the owner of the
Pita Pit telling McDonald's how to do business. But, the ACA could
begin to represent a growing viewpoint among the majority of cable/
satellite customers. Even if ESPN pulls in 17 million viewers to
watch Monday Night Football, is that enough to justify every cable
subscriber paying a heightened fee to get the WWL on basic cable? Is
it inherently more fair to make sports fans pay more for sports
channels? Personally, I know I'd rather not pay for Lifetime or HGTV,
although I guess the wife would have something to say about that...

And what about from an ESPN perspective? We've established time and
again that ESPN is a monopoly in sports broadcasting, especially in
terms of broadcasting live events. What would keep ESPN from
demanding to be placed in a special sports tier and demanding more
revenue from cable/satellite companies and their customers? We could
truly be on the verge of a very changing landscape in the world of
television. In my opinion, the most appropriate long-term solution
for all parties involved is giving the consumer the ultimate freedom
to pick what channels they want to pay for on a monthly basis.

No matter what you think of Glenn Beck's politics, you have to give
the man credit for being a media visionary. Just this week he
launched his internet-only channel, GBTV. Not only does Beck see the
future of television on the internet, but he's also grasped the future
of cable television as a pay-as-you-go system. In fact, some
speculate Beck could make $100 million this year if his venture is
even moderately successful. If I want to be a disciple of Glenn Beck,
I have the freedom to pay $4.95 or $9.95 per month to recieve only
that channel.

Ask yourself, would you pay $10 per month for ESPN and the family of
networks? Maybe more appropriately, could you afford not to pay $10
per month for ESPN as a true sports fan? If not $10 per month, what
about $15, or $20? What's keeping ESPN from eventually reaping the
financial rewards of their monopoly? What's keeping hardcore sports
fans from not paying for fluff channels and vice versa? Again, I'm no
expert, so tell me what you think. Would you want to see the ability
for cable systems to allow you to pick your own channel lineup? Would
you be willing to pay for ESPN as part of a premium sports tier? How
much would you be willing to pay to keep ESPN as a part of your
television lineup? Myself, I'm going to start saving in the piggy
bank, just in case!
Professor Bubba
2011-09-14 03:20:31 UTC
Permalink
In article
Post by TMC
Polka goes on to suggest that all cable/satellite customers already
pay around $5 per month for ESPN and ESPN2, which could rise to help
the WWL pay for the new NFL contract. Due to the rising price, Polka
and the ACA want to pressure cable providers (with the help of
Congress and the FCC if necessary) to place ESPN on a premium "sports
tier" instead of part of a basic cable package...
I hope so. I never watch ESPN; I've never seen SportsCenter. I just
don't care about the in-depth stuff. Anything I need to know, I can
get from the local TV news or online. (Most of it eventually turns
into crime news, anyway.) Being forced to pay more because somebody
overbid on the NFL contract is outrageous, especially since I never
watch football.
Obveeus
2011-09-14 12:11:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Professor Bubba
Post by TMC
Polka goes on to suggest that all cable/satellite customers already
pay around $5 per month for ESPN and ESPN2, which could rise to help
the WWL pay for the new NFL contract. Due to the rising price, Polka
and the ACA want to pressure cable providers (with the help of
Congress and the FCC if necessary) to place ESPN on a premium "sports
tier" instead of part of a basic cable package...
I hope so. I never watch ESPN; I've never seen SportsCenter. I just
don't care about the in-depth stuff. Anything I need to know, I can
get from the local TV news or online.
If you just want scores, CNN is better anyway. Their sports score scrawl at
the bottom moves along much faster than the ones on ESPN/ESPN2. ESPN
channels always gets bogged down with trying to display the fantasy football
data for QBs and rushers in addition to the score.
Post by Professor Bubba
(Most of it eventually turns into crime news, anyway.)
...or injury reports. Again, ESPN seems quite devoted to the fantasy sports
players.
Post by Professor Bubba
Being forced to pay more because somebody
overbid on the NFL contract is outrageous, especially since I never
watch football.
Whether they overbid or underbid remains to be seen. Right now, sports
(especially football) is about the only thing growing a TV audience these
days, so betting on it long term could turn out to be a good move. I can
certainly see overpaying on Football as a more reasonable mistake than
overpaying on the Olympics or Hockey.

Still, I do think that cable systems need to be 'forced' to offer their
programming in more concise packages rather than the nearly all-or-nothing
chunks offered now. A sports package and a kids package would be reasonable
starts...and cable systems certainly can accomplish this as they aptly
demonstrate already with their pay movie tiers.
David
2011-09-14 15:14:25 UTC
Permalink
If you just want scores, CNN is better anyway.  Their sports score scrawl at
the bottom moves along much faster than the ones on ESPN/ESPN2.  ESPN
channels always gets bogged down with trying to display the fantasy football
data for QBs and rushers in addition to the score.
DirecTV has a nice "scoreboard" function you can call up with your
remote. I'd like to see cable add it, but make it available on every
channel instead of just on sports ones.
Post by Professor Bubba
(Most of it eventually turns into crime news, anyway.)
...or injury reports.  Again, ESPN seems quite devoted to the fantasy sports
players.
You don't have to be into fantasy football (which I'm not) to be
interested in that information. My "ESPN bottomline" pet peeve is
they've turned it into an advertising platform, hyping big games that
are still days away.
Post by Professor Bubba
Being forced to pay more because somebody
overbid on the NFL contract is outrageous, especially since I never
watch football.
Whether they overbid or underbid remains to be seen.
They may have paid a lot but they didn't overbid. By the end of the
season they might have the top 17 programs on cable for the year.
Obveeus
2011-09-14 15:31:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by David
Post by Obveeus
Post by Professor Bubba
Being forced to pay more because somebody
overbid on the NFL contract is outrageous, especially since I never
watch football.
Whether they overbid or underbid remains to be seen.
They may have paid a lot but they didn't overbid. By the end of the
season they might have the top 17 programs on cable for the year.
Of course, having the top 17 programs doesn't preclude them from losing
money on the deal. The bigger question, though, is with respect to where
the NFL game will be in popularity 5 or 10 years from now. If popularity
holds or increases, the MNF deal will look like a good deal for ESPN. If
popularity for the sport declines, then it will look like a good deal for
the NFL and it will be a bust for ESPN.
David
2011-09-14 15:51:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Obveeus
Post by David
Post by Obveeus
Post by Professor Bubba
Being forced to pay more because somebody
overbid on the NFL contract is outrageous, especially since I never
watch football.
Whether they overbid or underbid remains to be seen.
They may have paid a lot but they didn't overbid. By the end of the
season they might have the top 17 programs on cable for the year.
Of course, having the top 17 programs doesn't preclude them from losing
money on the deal.
ESPN gets too much out of it to lose money, in addition to higher
subscriber fees. Things like the NFL Draft and all-day pregame shows
for MNF.
Post by Obveeus
The bigger question, though, is with respect to where
the NFL game will be in popularity 5 or 10 years from now.
Well it's unlikely to implode. Now that there's a new labor contract,
NFL should feel good about its long-term health.

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