Billions of dollars are still being spent on sports, but those shelling it out are without a return as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force an indefinite suspension of all major leagues.
Networks are paying sports rights fees, cable companies are paying networks and subscribers are paying cable companies. There’s a chain reaction of dollars being spent while the product remains on hold. According to Josh Kosman of The New York Post, Dish Network has already attempted to break the chain, by working to get out of the $80 to $100 million in rights fees owed to ESPN for the month of April.
Dish likely won’t be the only TV provider looking for a rebate on their rights fees agreements, says a report from analyst Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners.
“US multichannel video subscribers effectively paid ESPN $650 million in April to watch one original series with literally no live sports on TV or for their talk show hosts to even talk about,” Greenfield said in the report.
“The multibillion dollar question becomes: what is stopping distributors from invoking force majeure? We believe there has to be a tipping point where enough sports have not occurred that distributors will refuse to pay sports network programmers.”
Currently, cable companies are still charging customers for sports channels because most sporting events haven’t been canceled, just postponed. My personal cable subscription with Optimum still includes a monthly regional sports network fee of $10.47, even though RSN’s have not aired a new game in six weeks.
It’s hard to anticipate any rebates being handed out as long as sports leagues aren’t planning on canceling their seasons. Providing customers with a rebate for lost games now, might mean charging them more later, if and when those sporting events are played.
Similarly, sports teams are hesitant to offer returns on ticket sales until league’s determine how and when seasons will be played. If games are officially canceled or if seasons resume with no fans in attendance, it will be the team’s right to hold onto the money and offer tickets to a later event, essentially acting as an interest free loan.
Dish Network’s attempt to break their rights fees agreement with ESPN comes at a time when Disney has already been hit hard financially by the global pandemic. The Walt Disney Company recently furloughed a significant number of employees from their twelve theme parks, including 43,000 at Florida’s Walt Disney World alone.
ESPN reduced executive salaries by 20 to 30 percent, also asking their top on-air talent to accept a 15% pay cut during the next 90 days. If TV providers such as Dish do back out of their rights agreements, those potential nine-figure losses could certainly have additional impacts on employee salaries.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Greg Olsen Can Leave FOX For Another Network
“When Tom Brady is ready, that chair is his.”
Now that Tom Brady’s playing career is officially over, plenty of people are talking about what comes next. He has a contract from FOX on the table that will put him in the network’s top NFL booth when he is ready. What that means for Greg Olsen remains unclear.
Olsen has won plenty of fans this season. Last week, he told ESPN 1000 that he is a “big boy” and he “knew what he signed up for” when he was elevated to the top slot at the network alongside Kevin Burkhardt. When Tom Brady is ready, that chair is his.
Plenty have speculated that FOX could go with a three-man booth. That way the network gets the benefits of both Brady’s star power and Olsen’s ability to dissect a game.
There is another option for Greg Olsen though according to Andrew Marchand. The New York Post writer reports that Olsen can opt out of his contract at FOX and join another network if he is offered a job.
Olsen cannot take just anything. He can only pursue a job in another network’s top booth if offered. That spot is locked up for every network with an NFL TV deal currently, but it won’t be forever and Greg Olsen has proven his worth to the broadcasting world this season.
“He could end up being this generation’s Cris Collinsworth, having a long, lucrative career, despite not having played quarterback or for the Cowboys or in New York,’ Marchand writes. “People love an underdog — especially if the person delivers.”
While Tom Brady will eventually be Kevin Burkhardt’s partner, it will not happen on February 12th. FOX is sticking with Burkhardt and Olsen to call Super Bowl LVII.
Molly Qerim: Stephen A. Smith and I Have Never Had a Mike and the Mad Dog-Style Fight
“We’re definitely annoyed at each other for times. There were times when we were very, very annoyed.”
Mike and the Mad Dog were celebrated on First Take Wednesday morning for their legendary careers. One topic that came up was their legendary fights, with host Molly Qerim saying — luckily — she’s never had that issue arise with Stephen A. Smith.
Nearing the conclusion of the episode, Qerim pointed out how ridiculous some of the arguments between Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo became, bringing up the legendary discussion about the restrooms at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.
“You guys would debate everything, even bathrooms,” Qerim said. “You really debated bathrooms.”
Francesa and Russo then discussed how the bathroom discussion led to months of silence, where they did not speak to each other outside of the show for more than five months, before Francesa’s wife invited Russo to their wedding, which eventually squashed the beef.
“Think about it. If you two (Smith and Qerim) did not get along, and for five months and you walked in here and didn’t talk to each other either before, during or after (the show),” Russo said. “That’s hard to pull off.”
“We never did that,” replied Qerim. “We’re definitely annoyed at each other at times. There were times when we were very, very annoyed.”
Francesa asked Qerim and Smith if they’d ever had “a real fight” with both immediately responding no.
Smith did note — somewhat jokingly — that he had felt “very bruised” from time to time by Qerim.
Kevin Negandhi: I’m the Same on SportsCenter As I Am In Real Life
“I’ve always just tried to find that blend where I can be respectful for the audience and have a good time and have fun delivering highlights.”
Kevin Negandhi has been one of the hosts of the 6:00 PM ET SportsCenter on ESPN over the last few years. Even in this prominent role, Negandhi takes great pride in making sure the viewer is being entertained and getting an escape from the real world, at least for an hour.
Negandhi was a guest on The Adam Schein Podcast this week and Schein asked him how he would describe his broadcast style. He wanted to make it clear that if you met him on the street, he is the same person that you see on ESPN.
“I’m the person that you would meet casually, I’m the same person on TV. I’ve always said that I represent not just my family, not just where I’m from, I represent the passion of the great area and region that is Philadelphia. When you see me on TV, I feel like I’m letting you into a conversation I would normally have with you if we were talking about something. You are here for an escape, let’s talk about it because I got in the business because I passionately love sports. It was my connection with my family growing up. Connection with my family still to this day. It’s kind of like get in with us.”
Whenever Negandhi is hosting SportsCenter, he told Schein he tries to find a good mix of giving the highlights and the news while also understanding that the viewer is looking to be entertained as well.
“I’ve always just tried to find that blend where I can be respectful for the audience and have a good time and have fun delivering highlights and delivering the news and making sure you are entertained but at the same time understanding that I’m having fun with you while you are watching us as an escape.”
One other broadcaster that stands out for not being just a broadcaster according to Negandhi is Scott Van Pelt because Van Pelt is comfortable being himself and doesn’t have a filter.
“Scott Van Pelt really stands out to me because when you watch Scott, there is no filter with Scott. He’s not a broadcaster. Scott is Scott and he is comfortable in his skin.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.