Keeping You Connected to Your Sports Networks

Anyone who pays for TV service should have a choice over what teams they want to follow. And anyone with no interest in sports should not be forced to pay a huge premium for something they don’t care to watch. No matter who provides your TV service, the relentlessly rising price of sports has already caused everyone’s bill for basic TV to more than double over the past decade. In many large cities, the cost for fans to keep the same local teams’ games they’ve always had will double still again between this year and next. Many teams, leagues and conferences will deny their most loyal fans access to games in order to get everyone—whether you’re a fan or not—to pay the soaring price of admission. Every TV viewer should have a choice: Fans should have access to the games they want, and viewers with no interest in sports should not have to pay for what they don’t want.

  • Sports Turn TV Games into Runaway Free Agency, yet You’re Stuck Paying Every time leagues, conferences and teams take their TV games and act as if they’re free agents, the networks write huge bonuses based on your family paying up. Here’s a fast look at why you’re now paying so much more for the exact same games, and even some new tricks to force you to buy double the tickets to watch one event.

  • No World Series Title Since 1908 … No ProblemThe Chicago Cubs pull the plug on a relationship with Tribune Media’s WGN dating back to 1948 to move 25 over-the-air games to Disney’s Chicago ABC affiliate WLS for this new MLB season. The move enables the Cubs to synch up expiring broadcast and cable rights after the 2019 season when the perennial losers are expected to launch their own regional sports network into Chicago.

  • Big Ten and SEC Pulling AwayThe Big Ten Network, SEC Network, new College Football Playoffs and upcoming media rights agreement for the Big Ten’s most popular football and basketball games are staking the two powerhouse conferences to a major revenues gap over any other collegiate powers, creating competitive disparity even among the rest of the Power 5 (ACC, Big 12, Pac-12) leagues. SEC has the biggest bank ledger (at least until the Big Ten negotiates its next media deal) distributing $435 million to member schools this fiscal year – a staggering 200 percent-plus increase of $292.8 million over the prior year’s $142.2 million take. Even though the SEC didn’t qualify for the first-ever national championship game (won by the Big Ten’s Ohio State), the league reaped about $87.5 million from the CFP and affiliated bowls, the CFP says, compared to around $34 million in the final year of the BCS.

  • Dodger Fans Still BlueTime Warner Cable and the Dodgers continued to stand firm on a record $8.35 billion rights agreement that none of the region’s other providers are willing to subsidize. TWC SportsNet LA’s all-Dodgers all-the-time channel is TWC’s third new regional sport network in Southern California yet only has actual games for half the year.

  • Schools Double the Pay Out from College Football Playoffs The new College Football Playoff format increased bowl game payouts to participating conferences and schools to $505.9 million – an increase of nearly $200 million over the final season of the Bowl Championship Series. The conferences and schools netted $405.7 million for their athletic departments last bowl season compared to $212.1 million the year before and $210.5 million in 2012-13. ESPN pays an additional $470 million for the media rights to the three new CFB playoff games and a few additional bowls compared to the $180 million for BCS bowls before.

  • Comcast Doubles Price for British OpenABC Sports’ has been associated with golf’s British Open .(now known as The Open Championship) for more than half a century, televising the tournament starting in 1967, but Comcast’s NBC Sports Group paid double to snag rights to the tournament for NBC and Golf Channel starting in 2017. It’s the first time one of the four majors will appear on Golf Channel, as NBC Sports will pay approximately $500 million (or $50 million per year for ten years) compared to $250 million ($25 million for ten years) when ESPN and ABC shared the rights. Fox Sports, which just carried its first-ever U.S. Open Championship, bid up the rights with FS1 but NBC still came out on top.

  • Beautiful Game Gets Euro Makeover MoneyThe English Premier League sells European TV rights to its 2017-19 matches to 21st Century Fox’s Sky satellite service and rival BT Sport for $8 billion – nearly double the $4.59 billion the two paid for the prior three seasons. NBC Sports pays about $85 million to bring EPL into the U.S. but that’s expected to balloon to more than $200 million per season when Disney-ESPN and Fox Sports are expected to make a run for those same 2017-19 matches.

  • Big Ten Preps for Powerhouse Pay DayDisney-ESPN’s controlled the best Big Ten Conference basketball and football games for the past decade under a $1 billion agreement that expires after the 2016-17 school year. 21st Century Fox is expected to make a big run at the games it doesn’t control through its Big Ten Network joint-venture with the conference, and Commish Jim Delany already predicts each Big Ten university’s annual take will rise from about $21 million per season to $44.5 million starting with the 2017-18 school year.

  • NBA Goes for ThreeNBA TV revenue jumps to nearly $3 billion per season ($2.6 billion) from $930 million per season under a new nine-year agreement with current national providers Disney-ESPN and Turner Sports. The whopping $24 billion agreement takes effect with the 2016-17 season and represents a 180 percent leap over the outgoing pact signed in 2007. For comparison’s sake, that 2007-2016 contract represented a 21 percent increase over the one it replaced.

  • CBS Doubles Down on Double VisionDespite several lopsided contests in its first season of seven NFL Thursday night games, CBS re-ups for a second season for $300 million for eight primetime games. All of the CBS games appear at the same time on the NFL’s own NFL Network, but CBS uses them to boost its own and affiliates’ local retransmission consent fees.

  • Clippers Next in Line for LA LargesseThe Clippers have always been L.A.’s second NBA team, but are likely to move into penthouse after this season when some predict the cost to televise their local games will soar from about $25 million per season to as much as $200 million or more. Former Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers for an NBA record $2 billion before the 2014-15 season, counting on those rights fees to grow as Time Warner Cable and 21st Century Fox continue to battle for LA sports superiority.

  • No Sharing at Power 5 SchoolsFacing a threatened pullout by the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC, the NCAA decides in August to allow the five “Power 5” conferences to now set their own rules for how they spend their future revenue. Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 each have their own lucrative TV channels and Big 12 and ACC are in the formative stages of creating their own too so don’t want NCAA interference on whether to pay their student-athletes, improve their athletic training facilities or take other steps to better compete at the expense of the other 60-plus universities that make up the NCAA’s Division I.

  • MLS ScoresMLS might often be frugal with goals, but not with incoming revenue, as the league gets ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision to pay $720 million for matches over the next eight years. The new $90 million per season in fees is nearly five times as much as the $18 million per season MLS has gotten before.

  • Comcast Gets More Olympic Gold for $8 BillionComcast’s NBC Universal group of cable and broadcast networks controls TV rights to all of the Olympic games between now and 2021, but the nation’s leading cable and broadband provider shells out $7.75 billion to lock up the games through another decade. The roughly $1 billion per Olympic price tag ensures NBC three more summer and three more winter games through 2032.

  • Less Means More for NASCARNASCAR’s been losing audience, but the race circuit still gets a nearly 50 percent increase from Fox Sports and NBC Sports to televise races through 2024. The two networks split the season to the tune of $8.2 billion compared to $5.6 billion paid before.