ABC Affiliates Not Happy With ESPN Taking All the Good Sports

ESPN has already managed to demand the highest per-user fees of any cable network, raking in about $4 per subscriber. Could that number be going up in the next few years? Well, if ESPN continues its trend of taking all the big sporting events the Disney family of networks has the rights to televise, expect the WWL to come to the negotiation table with an even bigger hammer. Per Business Insider: ↵
↵⇥Affiliate stations told MediaWeek that that losing live sports events costs them ad revenue, potential media buyers and a chance to promote other TV shows and programming to NASCAR fans. But ESPN can do as they please, for the most part, since the Disney-controlled ESPN took control of ABC Sports in 2006. ↵
↵
↵The MediaWeek report indicates that ABC affiliates became "boiling mad" when ESPN announced plans to move eight NASCAR races this fall off the ABC slate to run on ESPN. This comes on the heels of ESPN taking both the Rose Bowl and British Open away from the network, starting this year. ↵
↵⇥“The migration of more and more live sporting events from ABC to ESPN is troubling,” said Bill Hoffman, vp and general manager of Cox Television’s Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV. Hoffman, who is also secretary-treasurer of the ABC affiliate board, said losing sports will cost affiliates “significant” ad revenue and hard-to-reach (and therefore valuable) male viewers. “Not only have we lost these sporting events, but now we also have to compete against those telecasts on ESPN. NASCAR is a huge lifestyle in the South. It’s indigenous to the region. And now most of the live races on broadcast are gone.” ↵
↵Len DeLuca, ESPN's Senior VP of Programming and Acquisitions replied that the move of those NASCAR races was about ratings, as many of those races on ABC were directly up against NFL football. ESPN thinks they'll have greater ability to promote the races internally, which doesn't make all that much sense, considering they are, in fact, the same company. ↵
↵⇥DuLuca said he is sympathetic to ABC affiliates but noted they will still air more than 300 hours of “good sports programming” this year, including college football, the NBA, World Cup soccer, the Indy 500, the Little League World Series and three prime-time Nascar races. He added that ESPN has “several shows and concepts in development targeting men” to offer ABC affiliates for airing on weekend afternoons. ↵
↵Ooh, I can't wait to see what shows and concepts they are developing to replace all the good sports. "Coming up at 3:30 PM on ESPN, the Rose Bowl, while on ABC, we have an hour of random things catching on fire, followed by an in-depth look at exploding meat."↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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