The NFL was already the unofficial poster child for excessive broadcast distribution rights deals, so it may come as no surprise that the pro football league--the role model of all revenue-seeking pro sports leagues--has inked a record-breaking $28 billion, nine-year distribution deal with broadcasters NBC, CBS and Fox.
Under the new agreement, the networks in 2014 will start paying 63 percent more annually for broadcast rights to NFL games than they do now. The new deal shortly follows a lucrative new agreement between the NFL and ESPN for annual Monday Night Football rights.
How can this happen at a time when viewership of the traditional broadcast networks continues to decline? The Los Angeles Times reports that the new focus for the traditional networks is on the value of big event programming as the viewers of narrative-style drama and other shows migrate to the "Breaking Bad" tier of cable TV channels--or to the Internet to watch past seasons of "Battlestar Galactica" (The LA Times didn't reference those two shows in particular, just a little editorializing by me).
There is no mystery to who has the leverage in the cable TV industry when owners of content can move two years ahead of time to negotiate new broadcast contracts. What that ultimately means to cable TV operators, of course, is that they will continue to pay more for broadcast network distribution, and will likely continue to raise their own monthly fees to their own customers.
The constant uptick in the value of contents rights, and the obvious link this has to increasing monthly cable TV rates, should give proponents of a la carte cable TV more ammunition. But, is the FCC listening?
- read this LA Times story
ESPN's deal inspired more talk about cable a la carte
Smaller MSOs have called for the FCC to act on a la carte