Excerpts: “Ganging up on sports fees.”
- “A lot are ruminating, ‘If Chuck can get away, maybe I can get away with blowing ESPN off and let ESPN take the publicity hit,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Richard Bilotti.
- Several top MSO execs—even programmers Discovery Networks’ John Hendricks and MTV Networks’ Tom Freston—slammed YES and its chairman Leo Hindery at NCTA for trying to strong-arm Cablevision. The cable operator has resisted YES demands for $2 per subscriber, instead offering to sell YES as a pay service.
- ESPN inflicts the deepest wounds, with an average $2 per subscriber. The sports net is seeking 20% rate increases, thanks in part to its new National Basketball Association contract, which kicks in next season. “We take the brand and utilize it in at least 25 different ways to support operators,” ESPN President George Bodenheimer said last month at a press conference. “We believe we are worth every penny we seek and operators agreed to pay us.”
- In the end, it may be easier for a cable system to say no to YES: After all, ESPN has a lot more than baseball, and, as sports pros know, “fan” is derived from “fanatic.”
Source: Broadcasting & Cable