Billions of dollars are still being spent on sports, but those shelling it out are without a return as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force an indefinite suspension of all major leagues.
Networks are paying sports rights fees, cable companies are paying networks and subscribers are paying cable companies. There’s a chain reaction of dollars being spent while the product remains on hold. According to Josh Kosman of The New York Post, Dish Network has already attempted to break the chain, by working to get out of the $80 to $100 million in rights fees owed to ESPN for the month of April.
Dish likely won’t be the only TV provider looking for a rebate on their rights fees agreements, says a report from analyst Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners.
“US multichannel video subscribers effectively paid ESPN $650 million in April to watch one original series with literally no live sports on TV or for their talk show hosts to even talk about,” Greenfield said in the report.
“The multibillion dollar question becomes: what is stopping distributors from invoking force majeure? We believe there has to be a tipping point where enough sports have not occurred that distributors will refuse to pay sports network programmers.”
Currently, cable companies are still charging customers for sports channels because most sporting events haven’t been canceled, just postponed. My personal cable subscription with Optimum still includes a monthly regional sports network fee of $10.47, even though RSN’s have not aired a new game in six weeks.
It’s hard to anticipate any rebates being handed out as long as sports leagues aren’t planning on canceling their seasons. Providing customers with a rebate for lost games now, might mean charging them more later, if and when those sporting events are played.
Similarly, sports teams are hesitant to offer returns on ticket sales until league’s determine how and when seasons will be played. If games are officially canceled or if seasons resume with no fans in attendance, it will be the team’s right to hold onto the money and offer tickets to a later event, essentially acting as an interest free loan.
Dish Network’s attempt to break their rights fees agreement with ESPN comes at a time when Disney has already been hit hard financially by the global pandemic. The Walt Disney Company recently furloughed a significant number of employees from their twelve theme parks, including 43,000 at Florida’s Walt Disney World alone.
ESPN reduced executive salaries by 20 to 30 percent, also asking their top on-air talent to accept a 15% pay cut during the next 90 days. If TV providers such as Dish do back out of their rights agreements, those potential nine-figure losses could certainly have additional impacts on employee salaries.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Stephen A. Smith Slams Washington Post For Jerry Jones Reporting
“But you’re going to bring up a photo of him when he was 14, 15 years old? 65 or 66 years ago? This is where cancel culture gets into the mix.”
After reporting from The Washington Post revealed a photo of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones standing on the steps of North Little Rock High School as six black students attempted to integrate in 1957, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith has slammed the outlet’s reporting and defended Jones on First Take Monday.
“I’m pretty pissed off,” said Smith. “I’m pissed off but not for reasons that people would think. I am very, very fond of Jerry Jones, and I’m not hiding that from anybody. Is his record perfect? No, but I’m pissed off because he doesn’t deserve what just happened. He doesn’t deserve it. One report, our report, said he was 14 years old. Another report said he was 15 years old. At minimum that’s 65 years ago.
“You’re going to bring up a picture of Jerry Jones standing at this protest — no question — what was happening is not something that anybody — as a black person — should be appreciative about. You had six students trying to desegregate the school,” Smith said before stating that racism is still “alive and well’ in America, noting black men especially face it daily.
“But you’re going to bring up a photo of him when he was 14, 15 years old? 65 or 66 years ago? This is where cancel culture gets into the mix. You’re making an attempt to eradicate him, what he stands for and all he has done.”
Smith continued by saying he doesn’t have a problem with the photo, and Jones’ youth changes the potential for outrage, noting if he was 30 or 35 rather than a teenager, that would be a bigger indicator of his character.
Gus Johnson: ‘Nobody Ever Told Me I Was Doing It Wrong’
“I just want to delight in the excellence of these young men and women that I have the chance to call because I know it’s so important to them because it’s important to me.”
While fans get to hear Gus Johnson call big college football and college basketball games and get to see his reactions to memorable moments, he unfortunately never gets to see his own reaction, but he just enjoys being a part of sports, such as when he called Michigan-Ohio State for FOX this past Saturday.
Johnson was a guest on The Rich Eisen Show last week and he said while calling a game, he never wants to be too controversial and he appreciates that people choose to watch him during their times of relaxation.
“They say you never see yourself, you only see a reflection. You’ve never seen your face. You’ve only seen a reflection of your face as a human being. I can’t see myself. I would love to see myself during those moments because I sometimes don’t really understand the reaction. To me, I’m just watching the game, I’m a fan. I’m a journalist and I take that seriously, but more than anything, I’m just a fan of sports. Thank God for sports.
“People for the last almost 30 years have allowed me to come into their homes during their times of relaxation, rest, to spend time with their families. That’s important to me. When I call the game, I don’t want to be too controversial. I’m not trying to be 60 Minutes. I just want to delight in the excellence of these young men and women that I have the chance to call because I know it’s so important to them because it’s important to me. It connects you to great moments in your life and in your mind.”
Before he got to FOX, Johnson was at CBS Sports from 1995-2011 calling some memorable NCAA Tournament games and NFL games that went down to the wire. In an era where criticism can be found easily, Johnson told Eisen that he never received criticism about his broadcast style from any of his bosses:
“Nobody ever told me that I was doing it wrong. That’s one thing I loved about the CBS experience. At CBS Sports, we had different kind of broadcasters. Our leader back then and still is Jim Nantz. He had his own style. We had Verne Lundquist, we had Dick Enberg there during that time. Don Criqui was there during that time. Not one time did anybody ever tell me that I wasn’t doing it right. Nobody ever said ‘Gus, don’t do it that way’. I would get negative criticism when the Internet started, but not from my bosses.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks
Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.
NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.
Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.
Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.
Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.
He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.