TV sports at crossroads
Ad dollars take precipitous drop
Good morning all. It’s Friiiiddddaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!
As major league and big time collegiate sports continue to demand higher rights fees from over-the-air and cable television networks to carry their games, sports on TV are at a crossroads. Ratings for televised sports and other programming were down, before the pandemic. Now the virus has accelerated the downfall.
When viewership nosedives, advertisers get nervous. After all, they pony up big dollars to get their ads on TV and it is a way for the networks to make back the dough they shell out for rights fees to carry sporting events. When the prospective ratings pitched by networks do not materialize, the networks deliver make-goods, extra ads for an advertiser at no additional cost.
According to the website Digiday (paywall), some networks have been carrying these make-goods on their books for nearly two years, and they want to give the advertisers cash to wipe their ad debts clear. Many advertisers are saying “not so fast,” insisting their ads be carried. Some advertisers are going so far as not spending any more money on ads, until the networks televise the make-goods. It is making for a sticky situation, that could impact sports programming and your cable television bill.
Toss in a report that the next NFL rights deal with multiple networks could exceed $100 billion and something has to give. Count on even higher cable TV bills and increased streaming fees.
However, all is not rosy on the NFL front either. The networks have told the league they are not interested in the Thursday night package because of lack of exclusivity. Meanwhile, CBS has yet to sellout its inventory for Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021.
TV sports is at a crossroads, as consumers of sports change their habits and technology and an old guard attempts to preserve its current paradigm.
Thankfully, we are rounding third on a tumultuous 2020. It got me to digging through the archives of the New York Times and another turbulent year, 1968. If you picked up the sports section of the Times on the morning of Dec. 18, 1968 here is some of the following you would have read:
MLB owners offered to increase their contribution to the players’ pension fund to $5.1 million, one million more than their current contribution. The director of the Players Association, Marvin Miller, called the offer “totally inadequate.”
Fans stood in line in cold weather outside Shea Stadium to purchase tickets to the AFL Championship game on Dec. 29 between the New York Jets and either the Kansas City Chiefs or Oakland Raiders.
Preparing for their first season in 1969, the Kansas City Royals acquired Jim Campanis from the LA Dodgers for two players to be named and picked up pitcher Dennis Ribant from Toledo of the International League.
The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Phoenix Suns, 145-128, in front of 1,946 fans. Not to be outdone, 1,165 fans turned out to watch Atlanta beat the Chicago Bulls, 87-83.
The Cincinnati Royals fell to the LA Lakers, 112-108, even though they held Wilt Chamberlain to two points. Jerry West led the Lakers with 36 points, while Oscar Robertson paced the Royals with 28. More than 9,000 attended that game.
And 1968 U.S. Open Champion Lee Trevino claimed he was eating too much and said he was going to put on a rubber suit and go shovel sand to take off 15 pounds.
“My wife keeps cooking me chocolate cream pies and telling me I can always go on a diet tomorrow. Too much weight is a big problem though. I push my drives. I can’t get through the ball fast enough.”
Will the Yankees sign DJ LeMahieu?
It would not surprise me if the Yankees do not sign free agent DJ LeMahieu. The suddenly, budget conscious Bombers, claim they lost more money than any other MLB club in 2020 because of Covid-19. The Yankees got LeMahieu on the cheap, when he signed a two-year, $24 million deal in 2018. Arguably the backbone of the Yankees the last two seasons, LeMahieu reportedly wants a long term contract in the neighborhood of $24 million a season.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman says the Yankees are working hard on signing LeMahieu. In the end, the market will dictate how much LeMahieu makes. There is usually some owner who comes along (Steve Cohen?) who offers an exorbitant contract, even in tough financial times. If the Yankees don’t get their man, look for them to make a move to sign another free agent and former popular Yankee, Didi Gregorious.
That is it for this week. As always, thank you for your support. Have a great weekend.