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Saturday, December 24, 2011

New NFL TV deals could hurt smaller cable channels

New NFL TV deals will change media industry
There has been a lot of talk lately about how the rising costs of professional sports -- particularly the National Football League -- will affect consumers.
After all, if the networks that carry football will all be paying roughly $1 billion per season (almost $2 billion for ESPN), then those costs will be passed on. The cable and satellite operators will be asked to pay more for those channels. The distributors will then turn to the consumers and expect them to chip in as well.
"There is no question bills will go up," Adam Chase, a lawyer at the Washington firm Dow Lohnes who specializes in sports media, said in a recent interview.
But other cable networks that don't carry sports or have huge audiences may also be hurt by the new NFL deals.
In a new report, Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne predicts that cable channels that don't air sports will see their annual distribution fees decline.
Many wonder whether the rising cost of sports programming will lead sports channels to be in separate packages.
Swinburne doesn't see that happening.
"To be frank, we see no easy path towards tiering or a la carte, short of a government mandate," he wrote in a recent report.
The challenge for cable and satellite pay-TV distributors though will be negotiating with companies that own sports and entertainment channels. In New York, Time Warner Cable is locked in a battle with Madison Square Garden Co., which owns two regional sports channels and a music channel called Fuse.
Time Warner Cable wants to sign new deals for the sports channels, but not Fuse. Madison Square Garden wants a new contract that includes Fuse.
NFL signs new TV deals with Fox, CBS and NBC
New NFL deals could mean bigger bills for consumers
Cable industry's Jim Dolan wears many hats
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Credit: Rick Havner / Associated Press

Will the tide shift toward Obama and the Democrats?

There's a change in the wind...
David Gergen says we are seeing the resurrection of President Obama and his fellow Democrats heading into the 2012 elections.

Star Wars: The Old Republic sells more than 1 million copies

From LA Time Company Town Blog.

Star Wars: The Old Republic launched this week.
The Force, it seems, was with Electronic Arts Inc. this week when the company launched its most ambitious game ever, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The Redwood City, Calif., game publisher said Friday that more than 1 million players have bought the game and jumped online to play since its release to a small group of customers Dec. 13 and to the wider public last Tuesday. Each player spent an average of five hours a day playing the game, according to EA.

So many players piled into the online game that the company's computers at times became overloaded, with people complaining about long waits to be able to play. The game's Twitter feed has been a stream of apologies to players who had technical problems or delays.

But people still logged 28 million hours in total playing time in the last 10 days, exploring the far, far away galaxy and creating avatars, including Sith lords and Jedi knights. (Sith lords, in case you're curious, are slightly more popular among players, outnumbering their goody-two-shoes counterparts 550,000 to 510,000.)

Although the early signs are good, EA knows that if its colossal investment in the game is to pay off, it needs to keep longer-term goals in focus. Buyers have spent $60 to $140 for each copy of the game, but they have 30 days of free online access before they must decide whether it's worth the $15 monthly subscription fee to continue playing.

In other words, no one playing Star Wars has yet sprung for the monthly subscription that makes this type of game -- dubbed massively multiplayer online games, or MMOs -- massively profitable.
In addition, EA has been deliberately throttling the number of copies of the game it sells, gradually doling out more to retailers, in order to minimize an onslaught on its computer servers that could cause more epic technical problems.

It could be months before the game's performance can be adequately measured.

Still, EA said in a statement that it managed to pull off "the fastest-growing subscription MMO in the history of our industry."

To which we offer the same advice Luke Skywalker and his fellow Y-Wing pilots received as they sought to blow up the Death Star: Stay on target.

World of Warcraft faces steep decline in players
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 clocks $1 billion in sales
Video games sector posts a record November
-- Alex Pham
Photo: Screen shot of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Credit: Electronic Arts / BioWare

From LA Time Company Town Blog.