MediaFile

In Super Bowl streaming deal, Verizon scores again

What a delightful week this is turning out to be for Verizon. First, archrival AT&T decides it will ditch its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile USA (as if they weren’t grinning madly in the halls of Verizon’s Art Deco building down on West Street) and then they get a piece of this NBC deal to stream the Super Bowl.  No doubt, in the greater scheme of things the AT&T news trumps the streaming deal — but every little thing helps in the crazy competitive telecoms world.

Here’s the upshot: For the first time NFL postseason games — including the Super Bowl — will be streamed live online over NFL.com and NBCSports.com and over mobile devices through an app supplied by Verizon.  This is NBC’s deal;  Fox tells us they have “no similar plans” while we’re CBS declined to comment on whether they would do a streaming deal..

The advantage for Verizon is clear: It’s just one more differentiator. (Verizon has really been on a roll lately. Beyond the events mentioned above, they swooped in to buy a ton of cable spectrum for $3.6 billion and made headlines with their plans to take on Netflix with a streaming service).

For NBC, the thinking is they can add an online audience to their already huge TV football  audience.  Joe Football Fan will watch the Super Bowl and all of its $3 million-plus commercials on the big TV screen at the same time he is watching the streaming coverage on his phone or PC, which will include a bunch of extra stuff such as additional camera angles, sideline updates and in-game analysis.  In other words, it will be complementary.

At least that’s the plan.  And  it’s likely to work out just fine for NBC.  When it comes to the Super Bowl, football fans crave all the information they can get, and having access to the game on your mobile phone while your sitting in a loud, crowded living room party would, frankly, be helpful.

ESPN’s new Skipper comes out fighting

We had the pleasure of incoming ESPN President John Skipper’s company on Monday at the Reuters Media Summit in New York. Skipper, whose promotion was announced just ahead of Thanksgiving Day, had been the No.2  to George Bodenheimer, now promoted to executive chairman.


In the last few years ESPN has become the 800-pound gorilla in the pay-TV industry through its mix of exclusive sporting licenses with many of the top sporting leagues and events. But those deals cost money — like the eight-year NFL TV rights that cost $15.2 billion. Even Skipper, in his first interview since his appointment was announced, acknowledged the deal as “expensive” but added the caveat that ESPN generates great value from NFL rights.


The high cost of sports programming is one reason ESPN is the most expensive cable network in the US at around $4 per subscriber. Most cable networks charge a lot less than $1.


But Skipper is adamant that ESPN is worth every penny and pushed back strongly at any suggestion that cable companies could create new tiers to help customers pay less if their package don’t include ESPN.



“It’s demonstrably true that ESPN provides more value to our distributors than any other network — by far, there’s not a close second. If you survey cable, telco and satellite customers they believe ESPN provides the most value. The distributors themselves believe we provide the most value.


I reject the notion (that ESPN high cost should see it placed on higher priced tiers). I  think the current package of pay-TV products that comes through on basic cable is a high value proposition to the consumer I don’t think breaking them up is going to provide the consumer better option. If they become broken up in an a la carte world the individual channels are going to more expensive. Consumers would get less channels and pay more money.


Every distributor will do deals with us because they believe the best protection I have against cord-cutting is having ESPN.”


 


 

File under acceptance: CBS knows it must pay up for the NFL

This time of year, it seems everybody loves football. The players, the fans, and, of course, the TV executives. And what’s not to like about football if you’re running a TV network, provided you have a deal with the NFL? Check it out, a total of 107 million viewers tuned into games between Thursday and Sunday on CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC.

So it should come as no surprise that CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves, while speaking at today’s Bank of America conference, said he intended to renew the contract with the NFL when it expires in three years. “No surprise there,” he said. Indeed. The bigger question is what will CBS end up paying? Just last week, ESPN signed a new contract with the NFL at $1.9 billion a year. Repeat: $1.9 billion. That is about 73 percent more than ESPN previously paid the NFL.

As The New York Post’s Claire Atkinson points out in a story today, the ESPN deal has come under some heavy fire, particularly from the pay-TV industry, worried that it’s going to jack up rates.

When it comes to NFL, TV executives put on brave face

NFL players association members arrive for negotiations with NFL in Washington Mar 11 2011

Shrewd? Prescient? Delusional? Tough to know, but top TV executives this week all seemed relatively confident — even off the record — when asked about the chances that NFL games would be played this fall.

The background, of course, is that NFL team owners and players are at odds over salary caps and other issues, raising the possibility of a lockout and the cancellation of some or all of the 2011 football season. Very bad news, if you’re a fan or a network executive.

Fox/Cablevision still talking, FCC also talking. Yet no change on Day 4.

NYGiants

So you know the story well by now: Fox Networks’ Fox 5 and My 9 channels have been off the air  for Cablevision’s 3 million odd homes in the New York area since midnight on Saturday morning because both sides have been unable to reach a carriage deal. As a result New York football fans have missed a key Giants game versus Detroit Lions (pictured)  and could miss more if this continues. As you might expect, the argument between Fox and Cablevision is over money.

Since then both sides have exchanged barbs and made various claims about who’s to blame — which is standard practice in a programming fee dispute. But FCC Chair Julius Genachowski appears to have had enough according to this statement:

“I am deeply troubled that Cablevision and Fox are spending more time attacking each other through ads and lobbyists than sitting down at the negotiating table.  The time for petty gamesmanship is over.

Sports stadiums going green?

By Sarah McBride

Stadium owners dragging their heels on finding greener ways to power up their high-definition scoreboards and retractable roofs just got a kick in the pants from their league commissioners.

Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer have dished out letters to their teams and facilities asking them to embrace solar power. Fenway Park in Boston is one of the select few that have installed solar panels.

Fenway Park in Boston is one of the select few that have installed solar panels.

from Shop Talk:

World Cup is no March Madness in sapping productivity

cup1It may be the World Cup, but when it comes to sapping productivity in the United States the global soccer tournament still has a thing or two to learn from March Madness and the National Football League.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which often measures lost workplace productivity, said many U.S. fans will tune in for the quadrennial soccer tournament, which kicks off Friday in South Africa, but the event still trails the NCAA men's basketball tournament, dubbed March Madness, and other events.

"Soccer simply has not caught on with the majority of American sports fans, Challenger CEO John Challenger said in a statement.

No Super Bowl blues; expect big TV ratings

colts1The U.S. economy might be weak, but the Super Bowl still scores with consumers.

The CBS broadcast of the National Football League’s championship game on Feb. 7 between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints should draw strong TV ratings, possibly challenging viewer levels not seen since the late 1990s.

“We’re looking at a big rating,” said Neal Pilson, former CBS Sports president and head of his own sports consulting firm. “The fact that the two conference championships got better than usual ratings usually indicates that there’s a lot of public interest.”

The NFC Championship game between New Orleans and the Minnesota Vikings drew 57.9 million viewers, ranking it as the most watched conference championship game since the 1981 contest between Dallas and San Francisco that featured “The Catch.” It was also the most heavily watched TV program, excluding Super Bowls, since the 1998 “Seinfeld” finale.

from Shop Talk:

Auto show-Super Bowl TV ads don’t score for Mazda

nfl1Advertising during the Super Bowl doesn't score for Mazda.

While the Japanese automaker plans to boost its marketing budget this year as it launches the Mazda 2 small car, running TV ads during the National Football League's championship game in February won't happen.

"You're never going to see us on Super Bowl," Mazda North American chief Jim O'Sullivan said at the Detroit auto show. "We're not going to spend that kind of money on that kind of property because, yeah, you get a lot of impressions and stuff out there, but the fact of the matter is, do you really get to the target you really wanted? That's more of a feel-good ad for a lot of people."

O'Sullivan said it was a "given" that Mazda's media budget will be up in the first quarter, as well as for the year, although he didn't say by how much. He said Mazda, which expects its U.S. sales to possibly rise faster than the overall market this year, will spend more on social media and digital advertising this year as it tries to reach younger buyers for its late summer launch of the new 2 model.

Fox vs Time Warner Cable retrans dispute could get political

AmericanIdol-Fox (Photo: Reuters)

Fox Networks went public today in what it said has been a fruitless nine-month-long carriage negotiations with Time Warner Cable, the No.2  U.S. cable company. It said there is the very real possibility that popular shows like American Idol and NFL Football could disappear from the air if you’re one of the Time Warner Cable’s nearly 14 million customers.

Fox wants to get paid for giving Time Warner Cable the right to carry its free-to-air Fox broadcast network for around $1 a subscriber every month. The talks also include negotiations for Fox’s bevy of entertainment cable networks including FX, Speed and Fuel but does not include its news networks. See Fox’s marketing campaign website keepfoxon.com here.

Time Warner Cable executives don’t want to pay a buck for so-called retransmission rights and claims it is has recently agreed to pay affiliate broadcasters  around 25 cents per sub. See Time Warner Cable’s earlier marketing campaign warning customers of programmers plans here.