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  • Apr 07, 2018 @ 12:50am

    Tell that to fans of American soccer...

    ...because they're looking at ESPN+ as a pretty good deal. The entire MLS LIVE service, which was about $70/year, is moving to ESPN+, which is only $50/year. Plus, matches from USL (the U.S. 2nd division) will be available on ESPN+, as will select European international matches and some lower-division English matches.

    Admittedly, I'm a supporter for local USL and NWSL clubs, so I know a lot of soccer fans, many of whom are cord-cutters (myself included), and several of whom jumped on the Fulham FC bandwagon when Clint Dempsey played there, which makes ESPN+ even more appealing to them. Combine ESPN+ with Fox Soccer Match Pass ($140/year) and NBC Sports Gold's Premier League pass ($50/year), and that's pretty much an all-you-can-eat soccer buffet for $240/year without cable, and for the PL games are on cable, we can always catch those at the pub.

    ESPN+ might appear counter-intuitive, but it's going to hit this particular niche very effectively.

  • Apr 04, 2017 @ 04:50am

    Enter the blockchain?

    Seems like MaidSafe and SiaCoin can't build out their platforms fast enough for some of these dissidents.

  • Jan 06, 2017 @ 12:29pm

    Has nobody stopped to think that this might be exactly what broadcasters want?

    In case y'all missed it, Hulu is primed to launch a live streaming TV service in the next few months. Hulu, of course, is OWNED BY THE BROADCASTERS, one of whom is Comcast-owned NBCU.


    Could it be that the networks might be setting themselves up to create the service that becomes cable TV? Would it be so silly to think that, in an environment where the FCC loses regulatory powers, the networks might try to push more customers to the TV service THEY own, rather than the one the cable companies own? And would it be silly to think that a company partially owned by Comcast could set the price for being zero-rated by Comcast, which would then force Netflix, Amazon, Google, and other video services -- who suddenly have no recourse with the FCC -- to pay the same rates, possibly recovering at least some of the lost costs of those expensive cable box rentals?

    Broadcasters aren't blind to these shifts -- Disney is reminded constantly of how many customers ESPN is losing every month. I think this is all part of a broader plan to allow broadcasters to become cable TV themselves. Two years from now, we're going to wonder why so many people didn't see this coming.

  • Dec 30, 2015 @ 01:09pm

    Re: Re: Just a thought

    Sure, why not? Is there a reason why they couldn't or shouldn't?

  • Dec 30, 2015 @ 12:43pm

    Just a thought

    I know the creators of this project set it up as a fan film, but if this were my project, instead of fighting CBS on this, I might take this money, hire a lawyer, re-write the script to remove the Trek elements but keeping the basic themes in the story, and create something that actually could make money.

    Who knows? Maybe it'll create a new universe that sci-fi fans might enjoy as much as Trek. It's not like there's a copyright on the concept of space combat.

    Not only would it get the film made that s many people kickstarted, but it's as good a middle finger to flip at CBS as anything else, no?

  • Dec 23, 2015 @ 07:08am

    The problem is media consolidation.

    How many companies actually own those 194 channels?

    1.) Comcast/NBCU
    2.) Disney
    3.) Fox
    4.) Time Warner
    5.) CBS
    6.) Viacom
    7.) Scripps
    8.) Discovery
    9.) Hearst

    And... who else?

    Everyone talks about the excess channels in the cable bundle, but nobody talks about how few companies actually control it. That seems to be the biggest problem here. None of these companies are willing to shut down even the smallest of their channels as long as 90 million+ people are still tied to the bundle.

  • Dec 01, 2015 @ 11:42am

    You're ignoring a few numbers, Karl.

    It's easy to look at that subscriber loss of 7 million over two years and think the sky is falling at ESPN, but there are a lot of other numbers missing from the equation here.

    To wit:

    According to Nielsen, from October 2013 to October 2014, ESPN and ESPN2 lost 3,635,000 homes, or roughly 3.67% of its subscriber base.

    Then, from October 2014 to October 2015, ESPN and ESPN2 lost 3,484,000 homes, or roughly 3.66% of its subscriber base.

    However, ESPN's contract with Time Warner Cable has an annual carriage fee escalator of 6.5%. Chances are good that they have similar terms with every other pay TV carrier in the U.S. The increase in those carriage fees is outpacing the decrease in subscribers. That's very likely to continue through 2016, even though the rate at which ESPN is losing subscribers has clearly increased over the last three months.

    What's more, ESPN and ESPN2 still collected nearly $8.3 billion in carriage fees during the last fiscal year. Add in ESPNU, ESPNEWS, and SEC Network, and ESPN easily collected more than $9 billion carriage fees in FY2015 -- to say nothing of advertising revenue, which must be good, because ESPN's overall viewership ratings were up in 2014 and might actually be higher this year.

    Of course, the subscriber loss for ESPN and ESPN2 over FY2016 still made about $150 million disappear from ESPN's bottom line. This is why Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann, and Colin Cowherd didn't get their contracts renewed, why Grantland was shut down, and why 300+ ESPN employees got laid off. It's also why Disney has ordered ESPN to cut about $350 million in costs over the next two years.

    The point is that ESPN still has a long way to go before it's done milking this pay TV cash cow. Yes, more consumers are waking up to how they're getting ripped off, but cord-cutting and cord-shaving is still happening at a slow-enough pace that ESPN has time to figure out how it can adapt to the changing market -- and it will. Eventually. In the meantime, sports fans are still tuning in, and that doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon.

  • Nov 12, 2015 @ 10:40am

    No music podcasts?

    Really disappointed by the complete lack of mention of any music podcasts. There are some great shows out there supporting indie artists and labels, and too often they go unnoticed.


  • Aug 19, 2015 @ 05:36am

    And when exactly does sports streaming REALLY get going?

    All five major pro sports leagues in the U.S. (and that one in the UK) have TV rights deals in place with major networks through the end of this decade.

    Four of the five major college conferences have TV rights deals in place well into the next decade, and the fifth has its own cable network and is expected to remain entrenched with the big cable networks.

    Many teams that have deals in place with regional sports networks have them in place into the 2030s, and this deal doesn't necessarily mean those MLB teams that have deals with Fox will be available locally to MLB.tv subscribers, even for a nominal extra fee. Fox still wants to keep those baseball fans tied to the cable bundle to help pay for Fox News, Fox Sports 1 & 2, FX, FXX, Fox Business, and whatever other Fox channels people pay for without ever watching.

    So tell me again when sports streaming REALLY gets going, because I'm not seeing it anytime soon.

  • Jul 24, 2015 @ 02:23pm

    Because football.

    Even money says NFL Sunday Ticket will be available to UVerse customers as early as next season. I'm sure someone at the FCC figured that qualifies as "public interest", right?

  • Jul 15, 2015 @ 06:35am

    More fun facts about ESPN

    1.) Disney has ordered ESPN to cut $100 million from its 2016 budget and $250 million from its 2017 budget. (Source: Washington Post) This might explain to some why the million-dollar contracts of Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann are not being renewed.

    2.) Based on current Nielsen estimates, ESPN is currently losing 300,000 homes per month. Last I checked, SNL Kagan reported that ESPN's carriage fee is $6.61/month, and ESPN2's carriage fee is $0.83/month. That means ESPN's total carriage fee income for those two channels decreases by $2,232,000 every month. Assuming a steady decline through the end of 2015, ESPN will be down to 91.4 million homes by Christmas and will have missed out on $174 million in carriage fees thanks to cord cutting and cord shaving.

    3.) With ESPN on the hook for nearly $14 billion of the NBA's shiny new $24 billion TV deal, we could see a number of leagues moving back to broadcast networks in the coming years, simply because ESPN can't afford them anymore. The Big Ten is up for grabs in 2017, and TV deals for the NFL, MLB, NHL, and MLS all expire between 2020 and 2022. Who knows how many subs ESPN will have lost by 2022?

    This piece explains why I think broadcast networks could take the upper hand on ESPN when it comes to televised sports in the future:


  • Jun 17, 2015 @ 05:25am

    So was this bioethics team also responsible for UAB killing its football program? Because they're totally going to lose their funding if they did.

  • Apr 27, 2015 @ 03:27pm

    Mike could use an anger translator.

    Forget the blog post, Mike. You need to make a video of yourself talking about TPP with an anger translator behind you. It would be YouTube GOLD, I tell you...

  • Apr 21, 2015 @ 08:57am

    Verizon will lose this one.

    Guys, if Verizon is violating a contractual agreement, then they're violating a contractual agreement. Verizon can pull this stunt on individual customers who can't afford to fight back, but against Disney? They'll lose.

    Whatever new TV paradigm Verizon is trying to create here, worthwhile or otherwise, is irrelevant. This is going to come down to contract law, and if the contract specifically states that Verizon cannot offer ESPN in a separate sports tier, Disney will force Verizon to honor the contract -- something Verizon probably does to enough of its wireless customers to deserve that.

    In the meantime, ESPN has lost 6 million customers in the last 4 years. No matter -- they can still demand the terms they want, including that 6.5% annual carriage fee increase, because they have 20 of the top 21 highest-rated cable TV broadcasts of all time. (I believe the Kentucky-Wisconsin college basketball semifinal on TBS a few weeks ago cracked ESPN's complete hold on the top 20.) They won't really feel the pinch unless they lose another 20 million subs within the next five years or so, and even then, they can probably remain profitable and let sweetheart carriage deals with Sling TV and Apple TV pick up the slack.

  • Apr 08, 2015 @ 08:48am

    Re: Why now?

    Disney is not a huge fan of Comcast getting more control over the TV space, because Comcast can use that control to keep ESPN's ever-growing carriage fees in check. There's a reason Disney was first to strike a deal with Dish Network to put channels on Sling TV, which happened within weeks of Comcast announcing it was buying out Time Warner Cable.

    So it's entirely possible that at least one giant media company is getting something it wants out of all this.

  • Apr 06, 2015 @ 10:14am

    This story would have been funnier if he had posed for a photo with Martha Stewart. That said, I doubt the result would have been that much different.

  • Mar 13, 2015 @ 02:14pm

    Re: Get your headlines here

    ...and John Fogerty sues himself.

  • Mar 10, 2015 @ 01:57pm

    Roundly trounced?

    Roku cracked 10 million in total units sold last September. Apple is up to 25 million Apple TV units sold, and more than half of those are the current 3rd-gen model. I would hardly call that "roundly trounced".

    Plus, Netflix + Hulu Plus + HBO Now + AirPlay will be compelling enough for plenty of people over the next 3 months. (Might be a different case come the holidays, though.)

  • Mar 10, 2015 @ 01:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 90 days

    Ha! I also have both devices. It's not so far fetched to have more than one set-top box or streaming stick anymore, given that they don't cost much and can serve different purposes.

  • Mar 10, 2015 @ 01:41pm


    The people interested in GoT and nothing else will probably continue pirating. HBO is counting on that group being very, very small -- especially given the sheer number of shows (True Detective, The Wire, Treme, Boardwalk Empire, etc.) that many will likely find binge-worthy. That's HBO Now's value proposal.

    And it's only a hassle to sign up and then cancel if you're dealing with a cable company. It wasn't nearly as bad when I did it with DishWorld and Hulu Plus.

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