General entertainment programming on a pay-TV service is as critical, and perhaps more so, than sports when it comes to preventing cutting the cord.
Or, putting that another way… live sports may not be as critical to a pay-TV subscribers as it’s always been positioned.
In fact, a new survey says, it found that two-thirds of subscribers specifically said sports weren’t the reason they kept their pay-TV subscription.
Cricket fans in the U.S. will be able to watch googlies skip by Indian Premier League (IPL) batsmen live on ESPN during the 2015 season after the Disney-owned cable net signed a three-year deal for rights.
The deal, which carries through the 2017 season, comes with a pretty modest price tag – just $12.4 million for the duration of the contract – represents a big play by ESPN to reach a substantial audience.
Last January, WWE announced it was switching distribution from pay-per view to an over-the-top service, but has been wrestling unsuccessfully to reach the 1 million subscribers it believed it needed to make a profit.
The cost of sports programming continues to rise, but the cost to pay-TV providers that don’t have it all can be fatal.
DirecTV, which has been a hold out for several months for a number of regional and niche sports networks, this week began transmitting content from ESPN sports programmer the Longhorn Network, home to all things Texas… well, University of Texas, that is.
DirecTV is bumping up the price of its NFL Sunday Ticket plans, according to published reports, putting the price of the basic package to $252, a 5% increase, and it Sunday Ticket Max plan to $354, a jump of more than 7%.
CBS and the NFL have agreed to partner on at least one more season of NFL Thursday Night football in 2015, after last year's experiment paid big dividends for the league and network.
By this time, you’ve all had your fill of “2014 in review” stories, so I promise not to go there.
Instead, let’s take a look ahead (with just an occasional nod to what we’ve already seen).
Here are five safe bets for 2015:
Dish Networks has gotten an ultimatum from CBS that, essentially says, “put up or shut up.”
The satellite operator and broadcaster are thigh deep in a retransmission dispute that already has gotten a pair of week-long extensions; but CBS is warning the operator that the end is nigh – make that 7 p.m. Thursday for the network to go dark on Dish in 14 markets where CBS owns the stations.
The woe continues at WWE Network. After reporting earnings that were decidedly lackluster this week, the fledgling over-the-top play delayed a much-anticipated launch in the United Kingdom, informing fans via Twitter that the rollout was “delayed until further notice.”
DirecTV and the NFL have reached a new deal for NFL Sunday Ticket rights that guarantee football fans that want to watch endless out-of-market pro games won’t be denied, and also clears a potential obstacle to AT&T’s acquisition of the top satellite TV player in the United States.
The deal also gives DirecTV new TV Everywhere and digital rights, allowing DTV to stream games live to mobile devices and across the Internet to connected devices.
A common topic of concern among pay-TV operators is the rising cost of content, and nowhere is that pain point more obvious than in the arena of sports content where the NFL and college football have demanded – and received – Midas-like paydays.
The NBA wants in on the action, and reports say the league is looking to double the amount of money it earns for the TV rights to its games when its contract with networks comes due at the end of this season.