Great response. A few thoughts (while again acknowledging I could be wrong about everything):
I know of no one in the cable industry who thinks this isn’t going to happen, indeed, it is happening already. For the first tine ever cable (and satellite) subscriptions are falling. Streaming is growing.
Yep. That’s why my hypothetical completely accepted your possible scenario. Not denying this possibility at all. I just don’t know the future, so I just admitted cable “imploding” in 5-10 years is a very real possibility but not an absolute certainty. That seemed like a fair statement to me. But since you don’t know of anyone in the industry who disputes this theory, let me point out a few:
And, BTW, TW’s subscriber numbers were up, not down: http://www.ibtimes.com/what-cord-cutting-time-warner-cable-a…
So, yes, your doomsday scenario is entirely possible but just not certain.
You’ve missed the point. There is no reason for the leagues to continue paying a middleman to do this when they are already doing it themselves.
I also agree that the leagues may not strip ESPN of all live action programming, but if you were the leagues would you put your premiere programming on somebody else’s tier when you have a store of your own?
To the first point: Yes, there is!
To the second: Yes! Emphatically yes!
First, if the leagues ever want to grow and survive they need new viewers. That means they need exposure to people that aren’t necessarily die hard fans. When casual fans watch more, they become more dedicated fans, assuming the product is good. Selling your worst game of the week to ESPN is not a good way to showcase quality programming and hence won’t win sports leagues new fans. Hence, sports leagues know they have to sell rights away to quality games.
Second, there is no downside to the sports leagues for this. Or very, very little downside. If I’m a die-hard sports fan, it’s not like I’m not going to subscribe or watch football via the NFL’s proprietary streaming service because ESPN also shows one or two games a week. Hence, the NFL won’t lose any die hard fans and can still collect from lucrative contracts it sells to ESPN.
The NFL and other sports leagues have made a kajillion dollars under this way of life, They’re not about to simply throw the whole system overboard to try out something completely new. Plus, like I’ve said, they need as much exposure as possible, so they can continue to convert more and more fans along the way. Monopolizing the way people watch games is not the way to do that!
Boxing is a great, great example of this. All “big” boxing matches are on PPV or premium cable services now. These are lucrative contracts for boxing but the sport is dying. Why? Because there is no exposure to casual fans and there simply aren’t any new fans. Most young people have probably never even seen a match! By limiting the way people could watch the sport, they’re slowly killing it (even while making mad profits in the short term).
Congratulations on creating the fattest, least focused bundle of all. If I want a service that includes some sports, but not all…
This is like ESPN’s current model, which seems to be doing all right. I mean, ESPN shows a live game or two every night of some sport but it’s not nearly all the games. It’s “some” games with lots of highlights afterward of all games. That model absolutely works. It’s proven!
I’m trying to do this shorthand, so I’m just writing from the top of my head, but these are the numerous media properties Disney owns outright or 50% of: all the different Disney channels, all the ESPN channels, A&E, History, H2, fyi, Military, Crime and Investigation, all of the ABC properties, all the Lifetime channels…the list is massive! Yes, all that adds up to a fat bundle! No, it’s not focused! But that’s because it’s so broad. In other words, it has something for everyone.
Going back to my own family, we consist of three males, three females of all ages. And this bundle would offer something for all of us. And, indeed, it hits the sweet spot for most of us. Between Lightning McQueen, the Force, Princesses, Elsa, Buzz Lightyear, Lifetime movies, history documentaries, and reality shows, there’s something here for everyone. I’m a sports fan, but I don’t need to watch every single game. I need to watch some games and highlights of all games. That’s the model that makes ESPN tick.
And what other leagues couldn’t offer is a highlight show of all games across all leagues. I don’t have time to watch an hour long show for each league. I have time to watch one hour show featuring the best highlights of all games across all leagues on any given night. Even you’ve acknowledged ESPN will be able to keep this model, which is the exact same model they have now, which has proved wildly successful.
And all this assumes they don’t make things really, really interesting with Hulu. They own a third of Hulu. Who owns the other two thirds? Comcast and Fox? Can you imagine the super-streaming service those three content creators could form around Hulu?
I’m just spit-balling here, Goofyhoofy. I’m just saying the future is wide open and Disney could very well grow in a post-cable world. Or we might not even see a post-cable world. Cable prices might come down, streaming prices will go up, and the two might meet in the middle. I don’t know.
This I do know though: 1) Sports leagues need to get their product in front of as many people as possible; 2) They make lots of money from third party distributors of their programming currently.
Awesome conversation Goofyhoofy. You really made me think through this which is always a worthwhile endeavor. I appreciate the back and forth!
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