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April 29, 2020 9:53 am  #1

multichannel providers want to stop paying sport network fees

This is not surprising...why pay when there are no major live sporting events available?

'Dish Network, the nation’s fourth largest TV provider, wants to wiggle out of the $80 million to $100 million fees it’s supposed to pay ESPN for April broadcasting rights, one source said. The fees are due at the end of the month...'


April 29, 2020 10:40 am  #2

Re: multichannel providers want to stop paying sport network fees

Charlie Ergen, the owner of Dish Network in the U.S., is a notorious penny-pincher who will stop at nothing to prevent hiking rates. And despite the fact that sounds like a criticism, it's not. He's fought so many battles over the years - and lost the right to carry a number of big ticket stations - that I've lost count.

There were times where CBS or Fox network affiliates disappeared for weeks on end (usually right before the Super Bowl), as those networks fought for substantial retransmission fee increases and Ergen dug in his heels and said no. Eventually, those were resolved, but it really pissed off his customers, despite the fact he was trying to save them money.   

His most famous fight was with AT&T, which owns HBO in the U.S. It also owns Direct TV, Dish's fiercest competitor. Well you can guess where that conflict of interest led. AT&T demanded a huge increase per subscriber to keep the pay-per-view network on Dish's system, an amount so large that Ergen refused. The result: one of the most desirable channels in all of cable has been gone from Dish for over a year. It's the only major service that doesn't have HBO and the first time that network has been pulled from one of the big carriers. And there's no sign it will ever be back.

It cost Ergen a ton of subscribers, but he stood his ground and the station is long gone, even as he quite reasonably argued that AT&T wasn't acting in good faith and simply wanted to damage its nearest competitor by demanding usurious amounts for something it owns. 

Which brings me to ESPN. For years, Disney - one of the greediest companies on the planet - has continuously raised rates on the network, forcing subscribers' bills way up. What's so terrible about this endless skyrocketing fee is that people who don't care about sports and will never watch it, are forced to pay for it anyway. It's a scam and a racket and it's been going on for way too long. I believe ESPN is the most expensive network in all of U.S. cable. But it remains on the basic tier so you can't avoid it. 

Ergen is not the nicest guy in the world and he's not very well loved. But I hope he wins this battle, at the very least because no one should be forced to pay for a pricey service they don't want. In that way, cable is a business like no other, where if you want it in your home, you're forced to purchase a lot of "products" you would never otherwise buy. Who else could get away with doing that?

Sorry for the lengthy rant. I've been following this for a very long time, since the days of C-Band satellite. And it still rankles me. For some cable subs down south, ESPN stands for "Expensive Spending Profiting Nobody." And this blackmailing shouldn't be allowed. 


April 29, 2020 4:56 pm  #3

Re: multichannel providers want to stop paying sport network fees

I came across a 2017 article in Variety entitled How The Cable Network Sector is Killing Off Struggling Networks. Here are some of the carriage fees per subscriber. ESPN [Main Channel only] 7.86. Disney 1.61. FNC 1.55. USA 1.07. CNN .78. AMC .50. Discovery .44. A&E .33. TCM .33  MSNBC .26. HGTV .23. FOOD .22. For people who have no interest in sports, that is an extremely high price to pay for a channel in the basic tier that will never be viewed..