Sports and more sports will drive up cable cost and reduce non-sports options..Remembering Mike Wallace. Hunger Games sinks Titanic and eats American Pie. Alien invasion comedy "Neighborhood Watch" to change its title.
Photo: San Francisco 49er players celebrate. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP.
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Your cable bills will go up so that sports fans will no have to go premium. While subscriber growth is slowing for cable television companies, the cost of content continues to rise.
According to a new report from Nomura Equity Research analysts, the money that distributors such as Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable shell out for programming rose 8.2% in 2011 and is likely to jump 8% in each of the next two years.
Although the typical cable household gets more than 100 channels these days, most of those channels are owned by a handful of companies including News Corp., Time Warner Inc., Comcast, Discovery Communications, Viacom and Walt Disney Co. Overall, cable and satellite companies coughed up $33.5 billion to content providers in 2011.
Walt Disney Co., parent of ESPN and Disney Channel, two of the most expensive cable channels, accounted for almost 25% of that $33.5 billion, according to the report. ESPN, of course, spends very large sums on sports rights, including the National Football League.
Time Warner, parent of TNT, TBS, CNN and HBO, received 21% of the overall spending. Comcast, which owns USA, MSNBC and Bravo, accounted for 16%. News Corp., whose holdings include Fox News and FX, had a 14% slice of the pie. Combined, those four companies account for 75% of cable programming costs.
Cable programming isn't the only cost that is increasing. Broadcasters such as CBS, News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting, Comcast's NBC and Disney's ABC are now getting fees from cable and satellite operators as well. Nomura said that in 2011, the big four broadcast networks took in almost $400 million in so-called retransmission consent fees, more than twice what they made in 2010. In 2012, the figure is expected to double again to $750 million. Nomura said Fox and CBS are the most aggressive among broadcasters.
Whatcha gonna do? Cops to be cut back for even more sports. Fox is cutting back on its long-running reality show "Cops" to make way for more sports on Saturday night. Looking to boost ratings on a night most of the broadcast networks long ago stopped investing in, Fox is putting a heavy slate of college football and Major League Baseball on Saturday. "Cops" isn't going away all together yet, but it will mean fewer episodes and bad boys. Details from Vulture.
Sony making cuts. New Sony Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai is going to cut as many as 10,000 jobs over the next few years as part of a plan to give the consumer electronics and entertainment giant a makeover. Some of the cuts may come as the result of Sony spinning off some units it no longer feels are necessary. None of these cuts seem aimed at Hollywood, so breathe easy, Culver City. More from the Wall Street Journal and Reuters.
Epic marketing. Epix, the pay movie channel launched by Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM that has struggled to make a name for itself against bigger rivals HBO, Showtime and Starz, is launching a big promotional campaign to try to beef up subscriptions. But the New York Post said CBS rejected one of the TV spots hyping Epix because it took a shot at Showtime, which is a unit of CBS.
Conflict of interest? Daytime TV star Dr. Phil McGraw has been busy touting a diet book. The problem: His son has a financial stake in the book. The Daily Beast looks at Dr. Phil's conflict of interest and whether he is being less than truthful with his loyal audience.
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. I stick up for the little guy. Twitter.com/JBFlint