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Volume 26 No. 228
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Sports Networks Rethink Expensive Rights Deals Amid Strain

The era of vast increases to the value of most pro-sports TV rights "looks to be over," as networks under pressure due to lower-than-expected ad revenues are "beginning to pull out deals they see as too expensive to generate money from," according to Gavin Bridge of VARIETY. Networks, "desperate to maintain access to content that attracts live viewers and high ad revenues, continued to spend big." This had a secondary impact, as free-spending sports nets "passed these costs along to consumers, via their cable service." Analysts at S&P Kagan estimate that major national sports networks "will be charging consumers $17.22 per month in 2022 (in addition to fees from regional sports nets)." Should the impact of the pandemic extend beyond '20, leading to more sports cancellations down the line, it "will be difficult for networks to justify these prices to MVPDs, and MVPDs to consumers." It is "likely that not all sports will be impacted." The big four of baseball, basketball, football and hockey are "likely to maintain their allure," as evidenced by MLB and Turner's expanded deal in June (VARIETY.com, 7/7).