Live Sports Drive Up Cable Bills

Satellite providers and cable companies are under increasing pressure to consider offering some popular sports programming a la carte—sports programming that most providers now include in their basic cable package. Sports, particularly live sports, is the most expensive programming for cable companies to provide. And not enough viewers actual watch sports to pay for its distribution.

For people living in Western Mass., a locale between Boston and New York, two of the largest sports media markets in the country, it may seem surprising, but fewer than one in 20 television viewers will tune in to watch sports programming on any given night.

“Aside from the National Football League and the biggest games of the year in a handful of other sports,” the Wall Street Journal reports, “the TV audience for sports is tiny, amounting to about 4 percent or less of households on average, according to media-research firm Nielsen’s data provided by a major media company.” And it’s even smaller for the NBA and NHL, with only 3 percent and 2 percent of viewers respectively watching their local hoops and hockey teams.

And yet, sports stations account for more of our monthly cable bills than any other type of programming. In an average media market, notes the Journal, myriad regional sports networks and the accompanying behemoth of ESPN options amounts to nearly 20 percent of broadcast fees paid by satellite and cable companies, according to SNL Kagan, a media research firm.

Read more at the Valley Advocate

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