Where Is The Pay Television Money Earmarked For Sports Going?

Show us the money.

Cable, satellite and phone company bills have gone out and there probably is no reduction in the monthly fee people are paying for the various services including the television portion. ESPN, NBC Sports, other networks and regional sports channels have had no new live game programming since mid-March yet there is no lowering of the cost despite the fact, they have not offered live sports programming that people want. Then there is another whole group that never watches a game that is paying for programming thanks to the 1984 Cable TV Act which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. ESPN and the NFL Network finally have live programming of interest this week, the NFL Draft. But somebody is getting the money.

The multiple cable system operators, which includes Comcast which is both a cable system and program distributor, owning the NBC Sports Network and some regional sports networks, are collecting the fees. Presumably the MSOs along with the satellite and phone companies are passing those fees after taking a portion to ESPN along with other national and regional sports networks. These fees are not cheap and 10s of millions of people are subscribing to these channels, some of them involuntarily. The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN has asked its personalities to take pay cuts. The leagues claim no money is coming into their businesses. Yet some of the teams, such as the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs own significant chunks of regional sports networks and the money presumably is flowing into networks. Has Disney stopped paying Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association? Has Turner Sports stopped paying the NBA? Sports leagues and franchises claim that they will be furloughing employees because money is not flowing into their businesses. Where is the cable, satellite and phone money going?

(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)