NY Times: Paying a ‘Sports Tax,’ Even if You Don’t Watch (1 Viewer)

CK SatGuy

Formerly ckhalil18
Feb 7, 2011
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It pretty much sums up how the high cost of ESPN and other sports (especially NFL) are pretty much destroying the cable business model. Eventually the TV providers are going to have to change it somehow and Dish could be the 1st provider to do so.
 

HanoverPretzel

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Oct 6, 2006
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For tens of millions of sports fans, the portion of the cable bill that goes to sports (Not really an accurate statement economically, but I'll with it for the sake of this post) isn't a tax, it's called the reason they bother paying the rest of the bill. For many, sports is the main dish, and everything else is just icing on the cake that they'd be willing to do without if it came down to paying just for the icing and leaving out the cake (the sports).

If they split sports into a separate tier that requires a basic tier you have to subscribe to first, then they'll be "a non-sports tax". How is that right if the current situation isn't?

One thing the article is right about, though- pay television costs too much, and a lot of people are being forced to drop down service tiers, start jumping back and forth between providers to get deals so they can afford, or drop it entirely. And if the economy doesn't get better and the prices continue to rise, more and more people are going to be in those situations. The solution is not to drop sports and provide less value, though. The solution (or at least a good temporary band-aid) is to trim the profit margins a little. Dish, Comcast, and others make a fortune every year in profit. Half a billion a year might be better than a billion if it prevents you from losing long-term customers forever.

I'm not saying these sports rights fee paid to the leagues aren't out of control, they are. And, I'm not saying that some of these sports channels don't want too much money, they may (Though I'm not sure on that one). But what I am saying is that the end providers (Dish, Direct, Comcast, Cox, Charter, etc.) need to stop passing the buck and blaming it on everyone but themselves. As long as they are making huge net profits, they themselves are part of the reason rates keep rising. If one year, say, Dish winds up operating at a net loss or barely makes a profit and has to raise rates because channels are charging them more, then I might see their point. Right now they can swallow these increases without passing it onto consumers and still make a tidy profit, though. If Dish chooses to raise our rates again or drop our sports because they can't stand to see their profit margin go down a little, that's on them.

I'd love to see bills drop to like $20 or $30 a month, but if the programming no longer includes sports, it's not even worth $20 or $30 a month to me. Maybe $10 a month. And no matter how much they save in rights fees, I don't see anyone offering a $10 a month television package anytime soon (at least not as a regular price).
 

Yespage

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It pretty much sums up how the high cost of ESPN and other sports (especially NFL) are pretty much destroying the cable business model. Eventually the TV providers are going to have to change it somehow and Dish could be the 1st provider to do so.
They have no one to blame but themselves. They are bidding ridiculously high amounts for these exclusive rights, and expect us to pay for it.

HP is right, however, that sports is a main draw for some. European Football is one of the main reasons I have Dish. But I don't think there are too many that do it exclusively for sports. There are methods these days of getting your sports online (legally) via Gamecenter, ESPN3, MLB, etc...

Oddly enough, I blame the normal Cable channels. They all of a sudden wanted to produce HBO level programming. Well, that programming costs money.

So you have sports on one hand, over-reaching basic cable channels on the other.
 

HanoverPretzel

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HP is right, however, that sports is a main draw for some. European Football is one of the main reasons I have Dish. But I don't think there are too many that do it exclusively for sports. There are methods these days of getting your sports online (legally) via Gamecenter, ESPN3, MLB, etc...

Some sports are available legally online for free, but probably not enough to satisfy a really big sports fan as his/her only source of programming. For example, I'm a Capitals (hockey) fan. Probably 90% of Capitals games or more are on Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic or their overflow channel CSN+. The only way you can get those games online legally as far as I know (Unless something has changed recently) is if you live out of market (And market here is defined as a large region that includes Virginia, DC, Maryland, and parts of Pennsylvania- possibly also some of Delaware and West Virginia) and buy an NHL package. In-market, those games are blacked out on the streaming package.

I'm also an Orioles fan, and it's a similar situation there- in market the only legal source of the majority of their games are channels called MASN and MASN2. If you live out of market (defined as a seven state region for the Orioles), you can buy a streaming package of MLB games online that include them, but in-market the Orioles games are blacked out in that package.

Oddly enough, I blame the normal Cable channels. They all of a sudden wanted to produce HBO level programming. Well, that programming costs money.

So you have sports on one hand, over-reaching basic cable channels on the other.

This is a good point. All these original drama series cost money and that's probably being passed on in the forms of higher rates fees for the channels. Over the air network television has actually cut down on original dramas and comedies in favor of cheaper reality programming and news magazines, while cable nets have been adding original drams and comedies. I'm not saying that's a bad thing in broad terms, but it probably does have something to do with rising rates fees channels charge. It's not just sports.
 

TG2

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Feb 7, 2011
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I'm in the "forget sports" camp.. the problem is that the big companies buy clusters of stations and then use them as leverage.

NBC Universal? (GE) you have to take CNBC and other BS or you don't get Siffy, USA, etc..

Disney ... you have to take ESPN's, ABC Family, etc..

Fox? ... Sports, Nat Geo, FX ..

TimeWarner ... CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, TNT, TCM, etc.

Viacom ... comedy central, VH1's, MTV's, Nick, etc.

they all do it..
 

The Fat Man

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We're all forgetting that most of our RSNs were at one time a subscription fee, on cable. I know that when DirecTV and Dish launched they gave them as basic channels. Growing up, everyone in my neighborhood paid for Disney (when it was a subscription service) except my parents, they paid for the little descrambler box that the cable company provided to let us view NESN and the old Sports Channel America. I'm talking back when we the only movie channels were 1 HBO and 1 Cinemax, and they had to come to your house and climb the pole to change the channel from a snowy picture with HBO or Cinemax's audio to allow you to get the video. The prehistoric times of cable.

So people should quit crying about having to pay extra for ESPN. I enjoy ESPN's sports programning, but I think enough is enough for people who couldn't give a damn. If they want a price increase, then they should be ready for providers to put it in higher tiered packages. Like 200 or 250, or a la carte.
 

Scherrman

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I get tired of complaining about paying for things that people do not need either. I know it's getting more expensive but people keep demanding more and more. If you want it, pay for it. If it's too much, drop it. There is still OTA for free in most areas. It would be the same if I complained about my cell phone bill. It's about $90 just for one phone. I don't complain though because in order to get the features that I really want I'm willing to pay for it. Same with Dish. I want to be able to watch about what ever I want so I pay a premium for it. It's expensive but I don't complain because that's what I want.

This is what it sounds like to me when I read a lot of posts on here and listen to customers. Give me, give me, give me, I want, I want, I want, but I don't want to pay much for it. Granted, this does not represent everyone but just a large amount of people. It's frustrating to see people act this way because they just never seem to get satisfied.
 

HanoverPretzel

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We're all forgetting that most of our RSNs were at one time a subscription fee, on cable.

There used to be on RSN in our area that had Orioles, Capitals, and Bullets (renamed the Wizards subsequently) games called Home Team Sports. I can't say that I know for a fact that it never cost a premium on top of the normal cable package, but I do know it didn't cost extra by the time my parents subscribed to it when I was growing up. In fact, it being on a regular cable tier was the primary driver for us getting cable in the first place. We were big Orioles fans and wanted more Orioles games. Otherwise, we probably never would have subscribed to cable in the first place.

As an adult, the big driver for me getting Dish Network after cancelling cable was also sports. It's not that I never watch anything else, I just don't see anything else worth paying for. I could get one of those net streaming boxes and pay under $10 a month for Netflix or Hulu Plus to replace old sitcoms through Dish, and I think some international news channels stream free through those things so I wouldn't be out of the loop on breaking news either. Granted, I wouldn't get my preferred news channel, MSNBC, but I've had several times where I've had to drop below a Dish package that includes that channel anyway for financial reasons.

Growing up, everyone in my neighborhood paid for Disney (when it was a subscription service) except my parents

My parents wouldn't pay an extra subscription fee for Disney when I was a child. In fact, despite having much younger siblings who are big sports fans and live with my parents to this day, they won't climb up to a package with the NFL Network. I don't blame them. Even regular cable is getting to be too expensive. But if you think people like that are going to turn around and pay for an HBO like package that includes sports that were formerly included in their already too expensive cable bill, then I think you're mistaken. They're just going to call up and cancel service. Heck, that's probably what I'd have to do myself with Dish- television providers are pressing people for money we just don't have while threatening to pull the only reason (sports) we pay them in the first place. I already switched from cable to dish for cost reasons.
 

MikeD-C05

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I like the idea of internet video delivered by DISH that EXcludes Sports channels. The problem I see is that many internet companies are starting to charge by the amount of bandwith used. I can see that taking the place of the sports price and adding or surpassing the price of internet delivered video, making it too high as well. I had hoped that DISH would of done sport free packs with the Satellite service we already have now, not come up with another service entirely. Well see how this turns out.
 

mruk69

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Aug 9, 2005
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I really don't care for ESPN, the only thing I watch us the English Football. Everything else is pretty much garbage e.g old fishing tournaments, old worlds strongest man

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mruk69

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mruk69 said:
I really don't care for ESPN, the only thing I watch us the English Football. Everything else is pretty much garbage e.g old fishing tournaments, old worlds strongest man.

The other thing that ticks me off about this channel is the Spanish Leaugue Soccer is only on Deportes.

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dwarren2

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Well, there is now a scrolling barren on TW's feed of MSG stating that TW subscribers might be losing MSG after 1/1. So another contract dispute with MSG. Only this doesn't involve Dish. I can see the repercussions in WNY if the talks fail.
 

Joe The Dragon

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Sep 19, 2008
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they can't we get theme packs like Canadian systems?? Hell the Canadian are now moving to next step with more of a all a cart system.
 

MikeD-C05

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they can't we get theme packs like Canadian systems?? Hell the Canadian are now moving to next step with more of a all a cart system.

Different country and it sounds like they believe in true free enterprise , unlike our country where we are forced to subsidize the overpaid sports teams ,stadiums etc.
 

Yespage

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This is what it sounds like to me when I read a lot of posts on here and listen to customers. Give me, give me, give me, I want, I want, I want, but I don't want to pay much for it. Granted, this does not represent everyone but just a large amount of people. It's frustrating to see people act this way because they just never seem to get satisfied.
You seem to be displeased about something else. Sure, you have the people that will never be happy. Then you have the people who want to pay, but are tiring of the increases. Why is ESPN asking for more? Because of bidding a ridiculous amount for MNF, among other things. When they make these ridiculous bids, they don't give a flip about their customers paying more. They'll just raise their rates to be able to afford their ridiculous contracts.

Me? I dropped ESPN when getting Latino Dos. Latino Dos is cheaper solely because of it. I've survived.
 

dishcomm

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Nov 29, 2005
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Dish and their "virtual cable" idea is mentioned.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/business/media/for-pay-tv-clients-a-steady-diet-of-sports.htm

The link may require free registration.
Here's the way I see it. As long as bandwidth is limited and as long as cable and telcos can keep a lid on the speeds they have to offer, streaming will remain inefficient with choppy reception and buffering problems.
Therefore, the fees paid by pay tv subscribers will continue to rise. They will rise until a tipping point is reached. At that point either consumers will cut the cord en masse or providers will simply tell the programmer's "no".
The former is somewhat likely in that we have seen cord cutting already. Tha latter is less likely as providers do not want to hear the wrath of pissed off customers who will tell their representatives "you cut off my ESPN or (fill in the blank).
At the end of the day all the viewer knows is their stuff isn;t there and those viewers are going to look for someone to blame.
The answer and this may be unavoidable, PAY PER VIEW. IMO somewhere down the road consumers are going to say "no more" or the providers the same....At that point sports leagues will have no choice but to offer their events by pay per view only.
I believe it is just a matter of time.
 

dishcomm

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Nov 29, 2005
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It pretty much sums up how the high cost of ESPN and other sports (especially NFL) are pretty much destroying the cable business model. Eventually the TV providers are going to have to change it somehow and Dish could be the 1st provider to do so.
I can tell you this from a cynical point of view based on other fights Dish has had with sports programmers,if Dish refuses Disney and ESPN disappears from Dish, ESPN is NOT coming back.
The resulting exodus of subscribers will be very painful for Dish and may just bring Dish to it's knees. However, I think Charlie is willing to take that gamble as many of his subs are locked into agreements that customers may find cost prohibitive to get out of. Dish will be fine as they can then trumpet their "victory" over "greedy sports leagues and programmers".
Dish can then tout itself as the "non sports purveyor of pay tv"..
On a personal note, I am holding off getting any new Dish equipment as I am not in a contract. If ESPN goes away, so will I.
 

Yespage

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I'd say it is likely ESPN will believe Dish is willing to drop them. I think that would probably be enough to get a last second deal done... although probably not before the screen crawls and websites from each side saying how terrible the other is.

People keep thinking how bad it'd be for Dish to lose ESPN. They forget about how bad it'd be visa versa for ESPN to lose the Dish subscribers. Neither side wins with them breaking up.
 

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