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Sports Network Fees Jumped 113% Since 2002
Cable Bubble Gets Ever Larger Before Bursting
by Karl Bode 03:51PM Monday Jul 15 2013
Most critics (including stock analysts that are routinely cable stock fluffers) have acknowledged that something needs to break in the world of sports-driven soaring cable rates. As only the latest example of this, the Wall Street Journal (sub required) points out that the fees cable operators pay to carry sports networks have risen 113% since 2002, cable operators paying $2.47 per subscriber to carry sports channels, up from $1.12 in 2002. Fees for ESPN and ESPN2 specifically increased to a combined $5.71 in 2012. While that's great for sports networks, viewership is in decline, and (although we seem intent on really testing this barrier) there's only so many bi-annual rate hikes cable consumers can swallow.

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tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

2 recommendations

Many of us...

...would be happy to see the sports channels in a pay package of it's own.
if 20 percent of users choose to pay 5 times as much (surely somebody thinks ESPN/2 are worth $28 more a month) and the rest of us would be much happier with the price reduction.

n2jtx

join:2001-01-13
Glen Head, NY

1 recommendation

Re: Many of us...

said by tshirt:

...would be happy to see the sports channels in a pay package of it's own.
if 20 percent of users choose to pay 5 times as much (surely somebody thinks ESPN/2 are worth $28 more a month) and the rest of us would be much happier with the price reduction.

Agreed. I have less than zero interest in any of the channels. I stick with Broadcast Basic because I have no other option to not get those channels.
--
I support the right to keep and arm bears.

linicx
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2002-12-03
United State
Reviews:
·DIRECTV
·TracFone Wireless
·CenturyLink

When I had a big dish ...

I could buy single channels, per packaged channels, or make my own cable package. ESPN was $2.00. The 7 HBO channels, and the 5 Max channels were $5. WGN, NYC, KTLA was packaged at $3.00. The other channels were $.50 -$1.50 each. The four PBS were free as were the OTA which included Canada, Germany and music from the Caribbean. What I didn't have was local channels. For $25 I had all the prime channels I wanted and HBO.

Of course we all know what happened to big dish and real choice.
--
Mac: No windows, No Gates, Apple inside

mr sean
Professional Infidel
Premium,ExMod 2001-07
join:2001-04-03
N. Absentia
kudos:1

It's not just Disney/ESPN

Witness regional sports network providers such as Comcast Sportsnet, or Fox Sports and the bidding wars for local content. Long term media contracts with these type of providers offer ROI for ownership groups in professional sports.
The end result always seems to pick the pocket of the consumer, but some of the blame must be borne by team ownership, collective bargaining agreements, and league management.
--
How you can make the world a Better Place
biochemistry
Premium
join:2003-05-09
92361

Blame ESPN

ESPN has been way overpaying for their sports programming over the last decade. But, what do they care? They know that can just pass all their stupid decisions on to the customer and make them pay. It is time we say 'No.' And this is coming from someone who made his parents subscribe to the premium regional sports networks as a second grader.

espaeth
Digital Plumber
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-21
Minneapolis, MN
kudos:2

Also changed since 2002...

In 2002 there were a fair number of games that were not available via TV broadcast for many major sports, including MLB, NBA, and NHL games.

Now in nearly ever major DMA, every single game for all major sports leagues are being produced and broadcast in HD.

I'm not saying that everybody should have to pay for that -- I do think there should be a reasonable way to opt out from sports programming -- but the price has gone up because the costs of production have increased substantially. More game being covered means more multi-million dollar production trucks, new broadcast facilities, new satellites launched for uplinks, etc.

telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:17

Fox Sports 1 fees

The latest battle is over the carriage fees for the new Fox Sports 1 channel:

FS1 carriage talks sticky a month out
By John Ourand, Sports Business Daily - July 15, 2013
»www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Jour ··· FS1.aspx

drslash
Goya Asma
Premium
join:2002-02-18
Marion, IA

I'm a sports fan

But I say put the sports channels in a pay for package. There is no reason non sports fans should pay these exorbitant rates. Let those who want to watch pay.
elefante72

join:2010-12-03
East Amherst, NY
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

FIOS already does

FIOS has non sports packages. I have the SelectHD which has all the broadcast and a bunch of upper channels, sans Fox. I guess Fox wants too much.

In any case, the alternative is TWC, and they have either broadcast only ($17) or everything. The everything package would be almost $50 more than I am paying today for my 2-play and come w/ TWC C- internet. C'mon 5 upload...

The other FIOS tiers are also reasonable, although those come with RSN that are NOT optional.

Once you dial back the stations, you see that that extra $30-$50 a month was really a waste, and if you supplement w/ Amazon and Netflix you have content galore.

In any case, I will let the masses pay for sports because it keeps my fees down for now. Also Dish and in some cases DirecTV have more reasonable packages.

aaronwt
Premium
join:2004-11-07
Woodbridge, VA

Re: FIOS already does

said by elefante72:

FIOS has non sports packages. I have the SelectHD which has all the broadcast and a bunch of upper channels, sans Fox. I guess Fox wants too much.

In any case, the alternative is TWC, and they have either broadcast only ($17) or everything. The everything package would be almost $50 more than I am paying today for my 2-play and come w/ TWC C- internet. C'mon 5 upload...

The other FIOS tiers are also reasonable, although those come with RSN that are NOT optional.

Once you dial back the stations, you see that that extra $30-$50 a month was really a waste, and if you supplement w/ Amazon and Netflix you have content galore.

In any case, I will let the masses pay for sports because it keeps my fees down for now. Also Dish and in some cases DirecTV have more reasonable packages.

Yes they have non sports packages that omits some of the channels. I looked at them, and if I got a certain tier I got certain channels, then if I went with a higher one, I got some more channels but then some were omitted that were in the lower one. In the end, to get the channels I wanted, I still needed to be on the Ultimate HD tier, even though I would prefer to dump the sports channels. But to get the non-sports channels I want, I have to be on the tier that has all the sports channels.
nfotiu

join:2009-01-25

What is $2.47?

Is that the average fee per channel? I believe I have read that the average cable bill contains about $25 a month in sports carriage fees. Is that the average per sports channel?
BiggA
Premium
join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Tough one

ESPN is unparalleled in terms of production value, both in the PQ and the surround sound tracks. However, we can't just keep having rate hike after rate hike. Sports is one of several areas that seems rather over-inflated, specifically because of TV rights and TV marketing.
MURICA

join:2013-01-03

Re: Tough one

"PQ" and "surround sound tracks"

ROFL.

Have you ever actually watched ESPN? The picture quality is horrendous. If I didn't know any better I'd think half their games were being upscaled. They'll piss away 35+ Mbps of bandwidth to uplink the games they broadcast yet they broadcast in 720p. Maybe spending all those thousands of dollars to rent an entire satellite transponder for a few hours for every game is one of the reasons why this crappy channel is so damn expensive.

They don't even need those ridiculous bitrates because I sure as hell can't see any audiovisual improvement. 720p video does not need a bitrate in excess of 35 Mbps, even when it's using MPEG-2. ESPN even uses a mix of H.264 and MPEG-2 to uplink their games and it doesn't make one bit of a difference because they still manage to make it look terrible. I don't know if it's their cameras, encoders, or what it is, but I've never seen an ESPN backhaul that left me feeling impressed.

And let me let you in on a little protip: I have also never seen an ESPN backhaul that has any audio other than stereo MPEG-Audio tracks.

ESPN is taking a 2.0 mix from the venue satellite uplink and creating a fake 5.1 track at the network before broadcasting it to you.

Top notch production value my ass.

And I'm going to assume you have no idea what I'm talking about or "WTF is a backhaul?!" so here's a little Wikipedia article to educate yourself with:

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backhaul_( ··· casting)

PaulHikeS2

join:2003-03-06
Fitchburg, MA
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Tough one

While I don't have the technical background to agree or disagree with your explanation, I have always noticed ESPN's poor PQ. It looks like the difference between something shot on videotape vs. compared to other sports productions that look like they were shot on film.
--
Jay: What the @#$% is the internet???
BiggA
Premium
join:2005-11-23
EARTH
Yeah. I look forward to basketball games that end up on ESPN, as they are really engaging to watch. I know it sounds cheesy that PQ and the surround track can make it more engaging, but it does. True, they don't need those bitrates, since none of the providers send them downstream at that rate. 19mbps MPEG-2 would be fine, as that's what FIOS is using. Or less in MPEG-4.

Apparently you're not seeing the same ESPN I am, as they have the most engaging production of a game that I've seen anywhere. I would prefer 1080i to 720p, but their 720p looks better than a lot of 1080i, as they really push the limit of the quality you can get with 720p.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

hell even have an sports only + basics package can work as w

hell even have an sports only + basics package can work as well.

The other channels like MTV, VH1, Lifetime, Bet and others as add up as well.

At least with analog cable out of the way it's easier to have more choice / theme packs.

carpetshark3
Premium
join:2004-02-12
Idledale, CO

Re: hell even have an sports only + basics package can work as w

Roku has MLB network. Does pretty well. Don't need locals as we have a very good antenna. I like that system. I can pick and choose.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

Re: hell even have an sports only + basics package can work as w

can't get your RSN/ MLB network / TBS / TNT / ESPN with that. out of market games only.
The Q

join:2008-06-26
Collegeville, PA

Re: hell even have an sports only + basics package can work as w

Article on this topic in today's Philadelphia Inquirer:

Analyst says unbundling would lead to lost cable revenue

Read more at »www.philly.com/philly/business/t ··· 18m7B.99

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Re: hell even have an sports only + basics package can work as w

Lost Cable Revenue= You saving money