From evolving sports rights to consumption patterns to the at-home versus in-venue experience, the opening panel of the second day of the ’12 Covington & Burling Sports Media & Technology conference tackled a long list of issues facing the industry.
affiliate agreements for MLB Network
ON LOCK-DOWN: NHL COO John Collins was asked early in the panel about the effects of the NHL lockout, and jokingly said, “I was watching the clock and seeing if I’d get out of here without a question.” Collins: “We’re clearly at an important moment right now. We’ve already cancelled games for October and November and last week cancelled the Winter Classic, which is just another regular-season game, but symbolic for us. We’ve got three days, including today, of extended negotiations, so we’re very hopeful.” He also discussed how NHL Network and NHL.com were covering the lockout: “We were watching all the other networks to see how they handled the lockouts on their networks. (NFL Network) looked at it like it was really an external news organization and really went out of their way to not only give the league perspective, but also the players, which I thought was great. The NBA went a different direction based on certain restrictions their bargaining agreement may have. For us, we haven’t really covered the lockout on our platforms from a news standpoint. We haven’t used it as a bully pulpit to get the league’s message out there. We’ve sort of been very quiet throughout this negotiation and I think we’ll remain that way.”
KICKING IT: Fox Sports co-President & co-COO Eric Shanks, on losing the U.S. EPL TV rights to NBC Sports Network, said, “That was a huge bummer for us. With Fox/News Corp. being the biggest distributor of soccer rights in the world, it was huge for us. We fought hard to try and keep it. We’re still big believers in soccer. We own rights to the World Cup after 2014, still have the (UEFA) Champions League, still have the FA Cup, still have Copa America. So it’s still a big part of our portfolio and we’re as committed to it as ever.”
Thursday games helped in talks with TWC
VALUE OF ENTERTAINMENT: Brosnan said of the high costs of sports rights, “This weekend I’ll go out to the movies, and if I take my three kids, maybe we’ll get out of there for around $100. That’s on a Saturday night for around three hours. And everyone complains about the cable bill, and we apologize for it. But I think that we should stop apologizing for it. ... Last Saturday, I finally got power back and was able to sit on my couch and watch three hours of college football on various networks, flipping back and forth. Unbelievably good entertainment and it kept me on the couch. And that was one day out of 30 that I pay a bill for.”