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Cable TV Sports Programming Death Spiral On Horizon

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Passing the cost on to non-sports fans will be the ruin of the big money cable TV sports deals

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There has been grumbling for the past few years that non-sports fans are subsidizing sports fans when the cable bill arrives. Most pay TV bills covers a cost per channel. It may not be published but you are paying a nickel for some channels and up to a few dollars for others, primarily ones that carry sports. If the Angels are getting $150 million per year from their cable channel, that money is coming from somewhere.

That somewhere is the wallets of all pay TV subscribers, fans or not.

And in the long history of broadcast television, that era seems to be ending. Not just yet. But if this were a novel, it would be the beginning of the end.

One service now itemizes the charge every cable subscriber pays for the local regional sports network...
How sports networks inflate your TV bill
Question: Verizon sent a sample of our upcoming Fios TV bill that includes $2.42 for a new 'Regional Sports Network Fee.' What's the reasoning for this?

The logical outcome of this is for consumers to demand a way to purchase pay television without paying for channels they do not watch, especially ones that charge nearly 5% of their whole cable bill.

As more viewers become aware of the fact that they are paying for cahnnels they do not watch, it is not doctoral-level psychology material to reveal that these viewers are irked...
Viewers irked as cable costs rise

The lords of the medium itself are addressing these very detailed business practices that have been overlooked ever since the pay television boom of the late-1970s. This very fact means the writing on the wall is getting clearer: People can and do dump services they do not use when there are great alternatives. With Netflix and online sources, if you don't watch live sports, why would you really want or even NEED a television, let alone an expensive pay service?
Time Warner Cable Boss Glenn Britt Defends MSO’s Pricey Sports Rights Deals
Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt on Thursday told investors that the operator’s RSN strategy is designed to minimize costs in the long haul.

And then there are the investors themselves, crapping over the possibility that the once sure bet of pay television is becoming risky as subscribers flee...
TWC, Dodgers Deal Seen Posing Risks As Sports Costs Explode TWC NWS
Speculation that Time Warner Cable will partner with baseball's L.A. Dodgers to launch a sports network comes amid higher monthly pay-TV bills.

And so the dominoes drop this way:

  • 2013 - Irked and outraged, more subscribers ditch pay TV
  • 2014 - Revenue drops force some consolidation among regional sports channels
  • 2015 - Shaky finances form broadcast television force renegotiated pay TV packages for sports franchises big and small
  • 2016 - Sports teams feel the pinch with once reliable broadcast partners going belly up and payrolls suddenly a tense issue - some team owners forced to sell as pay TV rights payments evaporate.
  • 2017 - ???