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Comcast Planning To Give Refunds For Lack Of Live Sports

“Comcast’s refund will only reflect credits received from regional sports networks based on cancelled MLB games.”

Brandon Contes

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After more than four months of no live events from the four major professional sports leagues, cable customers may be in line for some givebacks. According to reports, Comcast Corp. is planning to refund its subscribers sports programming fees for cancelled games. 

When sports were shut down in March, cable subscribers quickly began asking about refunds for cancelled games. TV providers such as Comcast pointed to the leagues, stating if they receive rebates from the NBA or Major League Baseball, a portion would be passed on to their customers. 

In last week’s quarterly earnings call, Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh stated he believes a refund is on the way. “We expect that we’ll be getting some money back from some of the sports leagues based on games played or not played in the US and when that does happen we, as we said, we’ll pass that back along to customers,” Cavanagh said, as noted by Cord Cutters News

Cable subscribers pay as much as $20 per month in sports rights fees, which includes national networks such as ESPN and FOX Sports 1. Comcast’s refund will only reflect credits received from regional sports networks based on cancelled MLB games. 

In April, New York’s Attorney General Letitia James put pressure on TV providers to give rebates to customers for cancelled sporting events. Comcast is the first major cable company to follow suit. Networks pay sports rights fees, cable companies are paying networks and subscribers are paying cable companies. According to James, cable customers shouldn’t be charged for sports they’re not receiving.

“At a time when so many New Yorkers have lost their jobs and are struggling, it is grossly unfair that cable and satellite television providers would continue to charge fees for services they are not even providing,” Attorney General James said three months ago. “These companies must step up and immediately propose plans to cut charges and provide much needed financial relief. This crisis has brought new economic anxiety for all New Yorkers, and I will continue to protect the wallets of working people at every turn.” 

Comcast now has a FAQ page on their website, explaining that they’re working with RSN’s to get credits that can be passed along to their customers. 

Can I get credited for the Regional Sports Network Fee on my bill since live sports haven’t been available?
We’ve been working with the regional sports networks to secure refunds for the sports network costs wherever possible.  If a regional sports network in your market refunds us and you paid the fee during the relevant time period, then we’ll pass 100% of what we receive onto you as a courtesy adjustment on your bill.

We will be notifying customers if they’re eligible for a refund for games missed between April and June. We’ll also continue to advocate for more refunds throughout the rest of the year.

Who is eligible for a credit adjustment on their bill?
You may be eligible if you are in a market where the regional sports network costs are refunded to Xfinity.

When would I see a courtesy adjustment on my bill?
The timing of any courtesy adjustment is dependent on when we get refunds from the regional sports networks. We’ll make sure to keep you updated and notify you if your bill is adjusted.

The question remains if Comcast will be alone in issuing givebacks, or if the company will set precedent for other cable providers to do the same.

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Sports TV News

Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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