SBD/Issue 128/The Back of the Book

Eye Drops: CBS Sports Programming Costs Down Again

CBS Sports' programming costs declined for the third consecutive year in '07, bucking the trend that saw its rivals continue to significantly increase how much they plan to spend on sports. CBS revealed that its sports programming costs had dropped 15.4% to $7.47B over the full length of its various rights deals. The net has now seen its sports commitments drop by nearly one-third since '04. Walt Disney Co., whose holdings include ESPN and ABC Sports, has $19.21B in sports commitments, which is 15.5% more than it had in '06. The company announced last June a new eight-year, $7.44B contract with the NBA, and extended rights deals with the Rose Bowl and several college conferences. News Corp. has committed $17.09B in sports costs, a one-year increase of 34.9%. Last year marked Fox Sports' first year of a seven-year, $1.8B rights deal with MLB, and a four-year, $340M deal to air the BCS. The chart below detail sports programming costs according to 10-K filings for CBS Sports, News Corp. and Walt Disney Co.

Approximately two-thirds of the CBS' overall programming budget is spent on sports, a share that has remained fairly consistent despite a drop in actual expenditures. Fox Sports was the beneficiary of 42.3% of News Corp.'s programming budget last year, up from 26.3% in '04. Additionally, 37.2% of Walt Disney's television programming costs last year were devoted to sports, twice the share it had committed in '04. CBS could see its downward trend come to a stop in '08, as longtime partnerships with the SEC and the USTA are set to expire.

NOTES: For '07 fiscal years ending June 30 (News Corp.), Sept. 29 (Walt Disney Co.) and Dec. 31 (CBS). Obligations reflect dollars owed over the life of contracts from the end of the fiscal years.

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