Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Viewers Rights vs. Rights Fees

The rising cost of fans seeing live sports on TV continues to become a bigger and bigger issue. Perhaps the biggest ongoing story in this regard is still pending, while CSN Houston's fate could well be decided by a judge in the near future based on the court case regarding the multi-million dollar long-term contract with the Astros.

While the NFL has yet to have a local telecast blacked out (through the first nine weeks of the current season), we have the possibility of DirecTV losing the Sunday Ticket package following the 2014 regular season.

Now we have the FCC and the National Association of Broadcasters each speaking out regarding blackouts of local telecasts. Last week, the Acting FCC Chair Mignon Clyburn announced a proposal to eliminate the FCC's sports blackout rules, which includes the NFL's. For some strange reason, a NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) spokesperson was quoted (via TVNewsCheck) as speculating that games which would have otherwise been blacked out would increasingly become available only via cable/satellite and/or pay TV services.

What makes the NAB response so insane is that the "services" which are spending literally billions of dollars for TV rights are owned by the big TV networks that the NAB represents. If the NAB truly feels this way, they should be taking steps to have Monday Night Football moved back to ABC, which is owned by ESPN. Same story with CBS, now giving up even more of its NCAA Tournament coverage because of revenue from Turner Sports. NBC Sports has the NHL rights, but puts the majority of its games on NBC Sports Network, and soon we will have Fox Sports moving MLB games to its new cable networks (if they survive long enough).

All of this, with a lot still to be determined, while fans, along with millions of "non-sports fans", being charged more and more every month for their cable/satellite service. Shouldn't the NAB be concerned about THAT?

At press time, we have reports that the Chicago Cubs could be ending their "forever" agreement with WGN-TV to televise their games following the upcoming 2014 season. Even though the Cubs are part owners of CSN Chicago, which now televises more games than WGN-TV, reports are that the team is considering starting its own network, along the lines of the Yankees' YES Network. Of course, it is possible that this is speculation to increase the bidding from other sources. This will serve to make the Houston ruling even more significant. If the judge rules against CSN Houston and voids that contract, the Astros and their MLB worst record may not get anywhere near the "original" amount for their TV rights moving forward.

This may seem an unrelated fact, but it is cause for media concern. Sam Walker reported that the percentage of viewers of the recent World Series in the age range of six to 17 was only 4.6%. If the younger set is not getting into the habit of watching the biggest of MLB games now, the prospect of them turning into the coveted 18-34 demographic does not bode well for those bidding on MLB telecasts in the near future. Especially when you consider that the same study showed the NHL Conference Finals at approximately 9% - and that was during the shortened season.

NBC has begun to flex its Sunday Night Football schedule, taking the Kansas City at Denver game away from CBS on Nov. 17th (week 11). This move puts the Green Bay vs. N.Y. Giants game on Fox as a doubleheader game, while moving the San Diego at Miami telecast on CBS to 4:05 PM ET that day.

NEW YORK: The Mets now have their new radio deal in place, with the emphasis on promotion rather than revenue. WOR 710 has the games for at least the next five seasons, but a key to the deal is the promotional value of WOR's sister stations. This will be the first time since 1987 that the Mets will not be heard on WFAN 660, which, instead will air the Yankees games. Howie Rose will continue as the play-by-play voice. This move leaves WEPN ESPN 98.7 without local baseball, thought to have been a big part of their move to an FM frequency.

WEST PALM BEACH: Dan Sileo is at it again. Or, in this case, no longer at it. This time it was a Tweet about an FSU football player that was cause for WMEN 640 (West Palm Beach) to let him go. Sileo is running out of Florida markets to talk sports in. Within the past two years, he has been let go from WDAE Tampa and WQAM Miami for similar personal comments or slurs.

PORTLAND OR: Even though the market only has one pro team among the four major sports leagues, the market now has a fourth all-sports radio station. In case anyone notices, KMTT 910 has picked up CBS Radio Sports, as if that would be anything to compete with The Fan 1080, KXTG 750 The Game, or even KPOJ 620. At least The Fan and The Game have decent ratings.

No comments: