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Volume 24 No. 156
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SMT Conference: Sports Rights Fees Continue To Rise At The Local Level

The '11 Sports Media & Technology conference yesterday featured the panel, “All Sports Are Local.” The participants were The mtn. VP & GM Kim Carver, Fox Sports Net Exec VP Jeff Krolik, SportsNet N.Y. President Steve Raab and Time Warner Cable Sports President David Rone.

Panel discusses the rising cost of
sports rights on a local level

An insatiable appetite for sports and a bad economy may be combining to help drive the continuing increase in the cost of sports rights on a local level, according to the panel. Carver: “The economy has certainly played a role. The family unit can’t afford now to go see a play, a musical. They’re not even going to the movie theaters as much. They’re staying at home and watching sports on their big-screen TV. So the role that sports is playing in the home I think is critically important. The family still gets together to watch an NFL game or an MLB game or a college football game or whatever is important to the family. Our understanding of that has helped drive some of these rights up.” Krolik, on why local rights are increasing as much as they are: “We have a great product. Local sports is one of those things that you know is going to consistently deliver ratings year in and year out. It’s the consistency piece of it that has been undervalued over the years.” Rone on why TWC is now getting into the local landscape: “Our goal is to deliver premium sports content to our customers in the best way possible. Sometimes the way to do that is in partnership with our friends at Fox Sports, ESPN, Turner, Comcast, etc. Other times it makes sense to buy those rights directly and utilize the relationship directly with that content owner by ourselves. That really was the idea behind our deal with the Lakers in founding this transformative partnership we have with them now. Sports rights are where they are today because that’s what the marketplace is dictating about how people are utilizing them and how people are selling them. We’re disciplined about it. We’re aggressive. We’re bold in the marketplace.”


On Fox Sports almost being a middle man with teams now looking to launch their own RSNs or going directly to distributors, Krolik: “We think we bring value. We are an aggregator of rights. If you take a market with an MLB team, an NBA team and an NHL team…Will that NHL team be able to launch their own network? I think that’s a challenge. We think we’re a fair broker of rights.”