Posts for 'ESPN'

  • Inside the Stream: How Overlapping “Doom Loops” are Crushing the TV Industry

    In this week’s podcast we discuss the overlapping “doom loops” that are crushing the TV industry. These were first articulated by MoffettNathanson, and built upon by Colin. The doom loops include 1) TV networks shifting investment/focus from linear TV to streaming, in turn driving more cord-cutting, 2) Fewer remaining pay-TV subscribers available to shoulder the cost of sports TV networks, in turn leading to more cord-cutting, 3) Audience shifts away from traditional TV driving ad dollars to follow, further pressuring traditional TV’s revenue.

    Yet another more doom loop could be added with news this week that Disney is finally pushing forward with a direct-to-consumer model for ESPN. Given how expensive that DTC service is likely to be, it’s ultimate adoption probably won’t extend much beyond hard-core sports fans.

    But it will cause the unintended consequence of raising the visibility of the multibillion dollar per year “sports tax” non-sports fans have long been paying, which Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred explicated at a Paley Center event last month when he said, “It’s a great business model when a whole bunch of people pay for something they don’t really care if they have or not, which is what the cable bundle did for us. It’s hard to replicate that.”

    So it’s safe to say that ESPN’s DTC service will also drive up cord-cutting.

    The “doom loops” are now on display for all to see, prompting Colin and I to wonder truly, what the remaining life span of pay-TV is?

    Before we get started, we give a quick overview of Wurl’s new ContentDiscovery offering, for which Colin and I wrote an accompanying white paper.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (35 minutes, 28 seconds)

    Browse all previous podcasts

    Subscribe to Inside the Stream
    Apple Podcasts  Google Podcasts  Spotify  Amazon Music  RSS

  • Inside the Stream Podcast: ESPN is Getting Squeezed From All Sides

    Cord-cutting is accelerating. Deep-pocketed Big Tech (Amazon, Apple, Google) are scooping up marquee sports rights in an effort to add value to their services businesses. Linear TV viewing is collapsing. Consumers' attention is fragmenting as myriad social media and other activities beckon for eyeballs.

    As Colin and I discuss on this week’s episode, ESPN finds itself at the center of this storm, as the venerable TV network gets squeezed from all sides. Adding urgency to the problem, and as we also explore this week, Sinclair's Diamond Sports Group, which owns Bally Sports, a big collection of Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) acquired from Disney as part of its Fox deal, is edging toward declaring bankruptcy.

    While Diamond’s demise is closely tied to the debt it incurred by overpaying for the Fox RSNs in 2019, it raises more consequential questions about the health of the sports TV ecosystem - and therefore the value of sports broadcasting rights themselves. These rights have been funded primarily through the “sports tax” on pay-TV subscribers who are not sports fans (see “Not a Sports Fan, Then You’re Getting Sacked for At Least $2 Billion Per Year,” which I wrote back in February, 2011). Non-sports fans are getting soaked for far more than this in 2023, with huge - and mostly unknown - sums embedded in their monthly pay-TV bills (partly contributing to escalating cord-cutting).

    Net, net, the delicate equilibrium in the sports TV ecosystem is under major pressure. With respect to ESPN, newly reinstated Disney CEO Bob Iger has a pressing - yet until recently unimaginable - question to address: long-term, is ESPN still a good business? And if it’s not, should Disney keep the network anyway, or seek to sell it off?

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (30 minutes, 18 seconds)

    Browse all previous podcasts

    Subscribe to Inside the Stream
    Apple Podcasts  Google Podcasts  Spotify  Amazon Music  RSS

  • NFL Rights Deals Soar As Pay-TV Subscribers Contract

    The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the fees CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN each pay to broadcast NFL games will double or more in new long-term agreements currently being finalized. Once again we are presented with the incongruity that sports rights are escalating even as the pay-TV subscriber audience able to watch these networks is shrinking.

    As the Q4 earnings season wrapped up, the contraction of pay-TV was again in the news this week as analysts tallied the final losses for 2020. MoffettNathanson pegged the subscriber loss in 2020 among traditional cable, satellite and telco operators at approximately 6 million, with virtual operators (e.g. YouTube TV, Hulu, etc.) offsetting it by adding approximately 2 million subscribers.

    continue reading

  • VideoNuze Podcast #505: PGA Tour and ESPN Negotiators Belong on Mt. Olympus

    I’m pleased to present the 505th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week we discuss the PGA Tour’s $6.3 billion, nine-year rights deal announced this week with CBS, NBC/Golf Channel and ESPN+. The deal will reportedly generate $700 million in fees, up 75% from the current deal’s $400 million. Anyone looking to me to explain how the PGA managed to get this increase, despite so many factors that should have given the TV networks leverage, is going to be disappointed. I just don’t get it, but as a golf fan, it’s still lots of fun to talk about.

    One thing is for certain - with the bulk of the new money going to the Tour’s players, the 2020s are going to be a very good period for them. As is to give a sneak preview, when this weekend’s PLAYERS Championship was cancelled after round 1 yesterday, half the purse of $15 million was divided evenly among the field of 144 players. So each player got $52,083, irrespective of how they played in round one. So if average round lasts 4 hours then they earned $13,020 per hour. Or if they shot par 72 they received $723 per shot (including gimme putts). Life is good.

    ESPN+ popped up as the streaming partner in the new PGA deal, which provided a good opportunity for Colin to explain the remarkable turnaround Disney has effected with the network. ESPN is now in 98.1 million U.S. homes vs. 98.5 million in 2013. After dipping to 89.7 million in 2017, ESPN successfully negotiated its way onto all major virtual pay-TV operators’ lineups (8.9 million). And it cleverly bundled ESPN+ with Disney+ and Hulu (another 7.5 million) creating significant DTC optionality down the road.  

    Reviewing the new PGA deal and ESPN’s bounce back, we believe executives for both entities deserve to be on the Mount Olympus of media negotiators.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 58 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!


  • Is Data Living Up to Its Potential? [VIDEO]

    How data is being used to improve monetization and user experiences is one of the hottest industry topics these days. But is data living up to its potential? At our recent VideoNuze Online Video Ad Summit, we focused a session on this question, with panelists including George Musi (EVP, Data, Analytics, Insights, Blue 449/Publicis Media), Lance Neuhauser (CEO, 4C), Bre Rosetti (SVP, Director of Strategy and Innovation, Havas Media), Vikram Somaya (SVP, Global Data Officer and Ad Platforms, ESPN) and Dan Punt (Managing Director, FTI Consulting) moderating.

    The session explored the value of data for brands, using data to uncover what’s meaningful to consumers, how to deal with limitations imposed by walled gardens, how data can power subscription models, when does value of data actually start to diminish, the importance of having the right infrastructure and talent in place, evolving to data-driven decision-making, complying with GDPR and much more.

    Watch the session video now!

  • In Focus: Is Data Living Up to Its Potential?

    Today I’m continuing our “In Focus,” series, in which I preview one of the sessions at our 8th annual VideoNuze Online Video Advertising Summit, coming up on Tuesday, June 12th, including what I hope you’ll learn and why I think the topic is important.

    In focus today is our 1:35pm session, “Is Data Living Up to Its Potential?” which includes George Musi (EVP, Data, Analytics, Insights, Blue 449/Publicis Media), Lance Neuhauser (CEO, 4C), Bre Rosetti (SVP, Director of Strategy and Innovation, Havas Media) and Vikram Somaya (SVP, Global Data Officer and Ad Platforms, ESPN), with Dan Punt (Managing Director, FTI Consulting) moderating.

    Data has become the most important ingredient in the advertising ecosystem, driving how tens of billions of dollars of annual spending are distributed by advertisers eager to micro-target their desired audiences and achieve the highest return on ad spend. It is no secret that Google and Facebook in particular, have used their massive troves of user data (sometimes to their detriment), to help advertisers’ quest for targeting and efficiency in the digital world.

    continue reading

  • ESPN’s New Streaming Service is for Super-Fans

    On Disney’s earnings call earlier this week, company CEO Bob Iger shared some details about ESPN’s new sports streaming service that will launch this spring and cost $4.99/month. Based on the initial reveal, it seems like a sports super-fan product that will give Disney some incremental revenue, but won’t be a game-changer in the broader pay-TV or online video worlds. It’s a refresh of the existing ESPN app powered by newly-acquired BAMTech technology.

    Iger described 3 main features of the new ESPN app:

    continue reading

  • Disney Blew A Big Strategic Opportunity By Licensing to Netflix in 2012

    By now we’re all familiar with the 3 big announcements Disney made yesterday: 1) a plan to launch its own entertainment-focused SVOD service, in turn sunsetting in 2019 its Netflix licensing deal for Disney/Pixar content, 2) a plan to launch an ESPN OTT service and 3) spending $1.58 billion to buy another 42% of BAMTech and take control of that business.

    Focusing on Disney’s entertainment SVOD service it looks pretty clear now that by signing the original December, 2012 licensing deal with Netflix, Disney blew a big strategic opportunity to get in front of the trend toward direct-to-consumer online distribution.

    continue reading

  • Best Practices in a Multiscreen World [AD SUMMIT VIDEO]

    Screens are now omnipresent with viewers fluidly shifting their consumption depending on their circumstances. At our recent Online Video Ad Summit session, “Best Practices in a Multiscreen World,” panelists discussed what’s worked well for them in multiscreen, including workflows, measurement, monetization, quality of experience, storytelling, brand safety and much more.

    The session included Josh Arensberg (VP, Head of Corporate Development and Strategy, Comcast Technology Solutions), Patricia Betron (SVP, Multimedia Sales, ESPN), Scott Doyne (SVP, Product Strategy, Turner), Julie DeTraglia (VP, Ad Sales Research, Hulu), with Dan Punt (Managing Director, FTI Consulting) moderating.

    Watch the video (35 minutes, 52 seconds).

    Watch the session video

  • BAMTech Investment Shows How Disney Keeps Covering Bets on Online Video’s Future Impact

    Say this for Disney - in just the past couple of years or so it has moved to cover virtually every bet for how online video might impact the company in the future.

    With its Maker Studios acquisition, Disney expanded into YouTube-style content creation for kids and millennials. With DisneyLife, it’s moving into SVOD entertainment beyond its pivotal output deal with Netflix. Now with Hulu, it’s addressing cord-cutting and the potential of skinny bundles (as well as with deals with DirecTV Now, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue).  And finally, with its new $1 billion BAMTech investment, it’s adding platform capabilities for direct-to-consumer live sports streaming. Plus, with the forthcoming ESPN OTT service, it will test its own direct-to-consumer sports offering.

    continue reading

  • Optimizing Video Ad Targeting Through Data and Insights [AD SUMMIT VIDEO]

    One of the big benefits of online video advertising is vastly improved audience targeting beyond typical demographics found in traditional TV.  TV networks are responding by investing significantly in data and audience segmentation to stay competitive.

    What they’re prioritizing, how they’re overcoming key challenges and how these efforts synch with online video and other digital initiatives were all in focus at our recent Video Ad Summit session, “Optimizing Video Ad Targeting Through Data and Insights.”

    The panel featured Gabe Bevilacqua (VP, Product Management, Viacom Vantage), Denise Colella (SVP, Advanced Advertising Products & Strategy, NBCU), David Ernst (VP, Audience Measurement & Innovation, Discovery Communications), Mark Gall (Chief Revenue Officer, Alphonso), Vikram Somaya (SVP, Global Data Officer, ESPN) with Mike Chapman (Managing Partner, Accenture Strategy) moderating.

    For anyone seeking a better understanding of how TV networks are moving beyond purely demographic-based targeting, the session offers a ton of insights.

    Watch the video below (33 minutes, 23 seconds).

    Watch now!

  • VideoNuze Podcast #290: Deep-Dive Q&A With Sports TV Expert Lee Berke

    I'm pleased to present the 290th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast we do an in-depth Q&A with our guest Lee Berke, who runs LHB Sports, Entertainment and Media, Inc. Lee has helped dozens of teams create and implement sports TV networks. He has a wealth of insights into the role of sports in pay-TV and how online and mobile video are causing leagues and teams to adjust their traditional distribution strategies.

    Sports are a key driver of increased pay-TV rates and as VideoNuze readers know, I’ve been writing for years (examples here, here, here) about the billions of dollars non-fans pay each year in the form of a “sports tax” - subsidizing expensive sports networks they never watch. With the advent of robust, inexpensive OTT entertainment programming options, the pay-TV multichannel bundle has come under more pressure than ever, with subscriber losses peaking in Q2 ’15.

    In our Q&A with Lee we explore these issues and how he sees OTT impacting teams, leagues and sports TV networks. Lee believes TV will remain the most significant revenue source in sports for the foreseeable future, but also sees the leagues more aggressively experimenting online to serve a new generation of fans. Lee also describes how he’s advising teams, particularly on how to maintain flexibility and capitalize on new technologies.      

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

  • Whoa, With NHL Deal, Did MLBAM Just Become the Most Disruptive Force in Sports TV?

    Yesterday, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced a multi-faceted 6-year deal in which MLBAM will pay $600 million to take over distribution and operations of NHL’s GameCenter LIVE and Center Ice online subscription services (including via pay-TV operators), manage all of NHL’s web sites, manage all of NHL Network’s operations (including taking over ad sales) and jointly develop new digital products. As part of the deal, NHL is reportedly getting a 7%-10% stake in MLBAM, which is also reportedly going to be spun off (finally) from Major League Baseball. (clarification, per MLBAM spokesman, NHL's stake is in BAM Tech, the technology arm of MLBAM)

    That’s a mouthful, but what it amounts to is a major expansion in MLBAM’s scope of business, instantly morphing the company from being primarily a provider of technology services supporting rights-holders to being a multi-platform distribution company in its own right. As such, MLBAM may have just become the most disruptive force in sports TV, signaling to every broadcast and cable TV network which has an interest in sports TV -  from CBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN and on down the line - that the ground just shifted underneath them. Here’s why.

    continue reading

  • VideoNuze Podcast #284: Online Video is Making ESPN’s World More Complicated

    I'm pleased to present the 284th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we turn our attention to ESPN, which was prominently in the news on Monday, when Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that he believes it’s inevitable that long term ESPN will be sold directly to consumers, instead of in the traditional multichannel bundle. To be fair though, Iger wasn’t ready to put any timeline on this move, so it’s clearly not happening any time soon.

    As Colin and I discuss, there are many online video trends unfolding that make ESPN’s world more complicated. These include a decline in the number of ESPN subscribers over the past few years due to the proliferation of OTT entertainment apps that are diminishing the appeal of the multichannel bundle,  pushback by pay-TV operators focused on cost containment and skinny bundles (e.g. Verizon’s Custom TV), the aggressive moves by leagues to roll out their own online-only streaming packages, the wide availability of sports-related information online and more.

    We hash out what all of this means to ESPN and where things are likely heading from here.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

  • Disney CEO: Long-Term, There's an "Inevitability" to ESPN Being Sold Directly to Consumers

    Disney CEO Bob Iger was interviewed on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” this morning (see below embed) and offered a surprising long-term vision for ESPN, saying, “Eventually, ESPN becomes a business that is sold directly to the consumer, where there’s an engagement that ESPN will know who their consumers are, will use that information to customize the product to enable personalization, to engage more effectively and offer advertisers more value as well. That’s longer-term. I think there’s an inevitability to that, but I don’t think it’s right around the corner.”

    It was the first time that I’ve heard Iger articulate so clearly how he sees ESPN’s future unfolding. Iger made the comments in the context of describing the huge distribution, promotion and consumption changes roiling the media landscape. Iger observed that despite a fall-off in pay-TV subscriptions, he doesn’t see the ecosystem changing significantly in the next 5 years, and that it was impossible for anyone predict with conviction how the media world will look 10 years from now.

    continue reading

  • VideoNuze Podcast #281: Pay-TV’s Programming Costs Spiral While Kids’ Interest in TV Wanes

    I'm pleased to present the 281st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Earlier this week SNL Kagan released an updated forecast of fee increases for pay-TV operators to carry broadcast and TV networks. Using that data Colin modeled what DirecTV’s programming costs would be and how they would translate into higher subscriber rates and lower margins.

    No surprise, Colin’s analysis further highlights how expensive pay-TV is becoming. Colin and I discuss how this directly translates into more cord-cutting and cord-nevering given the range of inexpensive, high-quality OTT options.

    All of this is happening against a backdrop of kids abandoning TV altogether. That trend was illustrated by new research from Miner and Co. Studio, which revealed that 57% of parents of kids age 2-12 say their kid prefers a device OTHER than the TV to watch video. Worse, almost half of these parents said sometimes as a punishment they take their kid’s device away and instead make their kid watch TV. We discuss the implications. (make sure to watch Miner’s video interviews too)

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

  • VideoNuze Podcast #271: Revisiting Comcast-TWC Deal Failure; Verizon-ESPN Spat

    I'm pleased to present the 271st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    We had recorded last week's podcast just prior to the news that Comcast was dropping its merger bid for Time Warner Cable, so first up this week we share thoughts on why the deal collapsed.

    In my view, the perception of the deal transformed from being cable-centric to being broadband-centric, largely due to the rise of online video usage. As a result, Comcast, post-merger, having 57% of American broadband connections under the new 25 mbps definition, became a sticking point (never mind that it actually has 56% on its own, reflecting its aggressive broadband infrastructure upgrades).

    This is a key irony of the deal's failure - Comcast has invested billions in technology, but its woeful customer service ultimately undermines these investments and defines its reputation. In a hypothetical world where Comcast was a "most admired company," (like Apple, Amazon, etc.), I think it's quite possible regulators would have actually welcomed the Time Warner deal.

    We then turn our attention to Verizon's "Custom TV" packaging and ESPN's lawsuit. As I explained in Has Verizon Put ESPN Into a Public Relations Headlock Over Opaque "Sports Tax?" I think Verizon is making a brazen move to reign in sports costs. Colin and I agree it's the most startling thing yet to happen in a tumultuous year for the pay-TV industry.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

  • Has Verizon Put ESPN Into a Public Relations Headlock Over Opaque "Sports Tax?"

    We've seen a lot of surprising moves in the pay-TV industry in 2015, but at the top of the list has to be how Verizon is trying to put ESPN into a public relations headlock with its new "Custom TV" packaging plan.

    If you haven't been watching this closely, Verizon announced "Custom TV" last week. Under the plan, Verizon FiOS subscribers can take a base package of 45 channels, including the 4 broadcast TV networks, for $54.99 per month, and get 2 "channel packs" which are smaller groups of genre-based such as lifestyle, Entertainment, News & Info, Sports, etc. Additional channel packs are $10 per month.

    continue reading

  • Report: TV Viewership Patterns and Economic Realities Indicate Difficult Path for "Skinny" Bundles

    So-called "skinny bundles" of TV networks face long odds of success given the dispersion of actual TV viewership, cross-ownership of broadcast-cable TV networks by media conglomerates and underlying economic realities, according to a new analysis by MoffettNathanson.

    The conclusions align with points I made in last Friday's podcast and previously, as I've asserted that the "Swiss cheese" channel lineups found in skinny bundles will lack broad appeal. This was a central finding from recent Bernstein research as well. Conversely, bulking up channel lineups with more TV networks (as Sony has done with its new PlayStation Vue service) eliminates the opportunity for a cost-savings value proposition that would resonate most with would-be cord-cutters or cord-nevers.

    continue reading

  • Sling TV: Old School Linear TV in New Online Wrapper Makes Success Unlikely

    Sling TV has received an enormous amount of attention since being announced last month at CES. Some hyper-enthusiastic observers have heralded Sling TV as a sign that traditional pay-TV is on the verge of crumbling. But, having now spent some time with Sling TV, I think a more accurate assessment of Sling TV is that it is fundamentally an old school linear TV service, modestly freshened up with a new online wrapper. In its current form, Sling TV looks very unlikely to gain much traction.

    continue reading

Previous | Next