Let’s face it, one of the biggest reasons behind the major increases in cable and satellite fees are because of live sports. ESPN charges an exponentially higher rate than any other channel on television and many of the other sports networks are in the upper echelon of the most expensive channels.
From a pure economics standpoint, when these networks are shelling out millions and sometimes even billions of dollars for rights fees, the cost for everyone is going to go up. And as teh costs go up, cord-cutting continues to rise in popularity.
And if this latest news is any indication, it may get more popular, especially among non-sports fans.
Via Variety and the WSJ comes the news that a bunch of entertainment networks are teaming up for a non-sports skinny bundle that could be an attractive offering to some television viewers:
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that A+E Networks, Viacom, Discovery, Scripps and AMC Networks are banding together to form a broadband-delivered bundle of TV networks that will be free of sports, enabling them to charge less than $20 per month. Discovery announced its intent to acquire Scripps earlier this year.
The new joint venture is expected to launch in beta shortly. Additional details on Philo are scarce, but it will presumably contain content from many of the powerful TV brands operated by these companies, including HGTV, MTV, TLC, History and AMC, home of top-rated scripted drama “The Walking Dead.”
What Philo won’t have is sports programming, which is dominated by some of their larger cable rivals including Disney, CBS, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner. These companies also have the broadcast-network assets the companies in the Philo venture lack.
‘While this news wouldn’t necessarily apply to much of our audience, (which I assume would be sports fans because let’s face it, why would non-sports fans care about how good of a job Tony Romo is doing as a broadcaster), it’s a logical next step for the cord-cutting movement. If you’re not a sports fan and all you care about is The Walking Dead and Fixer Upper, then why would you want to pay big bucks for the College Football Playoff or Monday Night Football? With these channels listed above featuring some of the most popular shows on cable outside live sports, it could become an attractive option especially at that price.
The biggest impact on the sports industry is if this becomes a popular trend and accelerates the number of people cutting the cord. If that’s the case, then ESPN and all the other major sports networks are going to have to work overtime to make up for the additional lost revenue that could come their way.