Press-Republican

FYI...

March 17, 2014

How local sports could change all of television

WASHINGTON — Whether or not you care passionately about baseball, you should care about the Los Angeles Dodgers. The future of television may depend on them, and on teams like them. Cable companies are betting that local sports will justify big price increases - and they may have overreached. Wars over the rights to local sports broadcasting are breaking out across the country, and their outcomes may bring the cable business model to its knees.

Over the past 30 years, sports have driven the entire cable business model, and local sports have played a disproportionately big role. Landmark battles over the broadcasting rights to the Dodgers and other franchises - the Houston Astros and Rockets, the New York Knicks, and more - have created turmoil and increased service costs in the cable distribution model. Now cable providers are passing those costs onto you, the subscriber, whether you're a sports fan or not.

Before we get to the Dodgers, let's state the obvious: Cable television is expensive, and getting more expensive every year. The average monthly cable bill in the U.S. climbed from $40 in 2001 to $86 in 2012. Market research firm NPD Group says it could go as high as $123 by next year, and north of $200 by 2020. Such a dramatic rise could place cable outside the reach of many U.S. households and force others to seek price-competitive alternatives. Cord-cutting, a trend already underway at a small scale, could go mainstream. To maintain their subscriber bases, cable providers will need to keep their costs under control.

ESPN, the king of sports networks, has a lot to do with those costs. It charges Time Warner, Comcast, AT&T and other providers 20 times the licensing fee that most other cable networks do. As columnist Ravi Dev points out in Medium:

The History Channel costs roughly 22 cents per month [per subscriber]. ESPN, you might be wondering? That comes out to $5.13 per month. … The ESPN subscriber fee is more than CNN, MTV, FX, TBS, CNBC, AMC, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, the Food Network, and the Discovery Channel … combined.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • An alternative diagnosis to ADHD: Schoolchildren need more time to move

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that in recent years, there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2011.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 23, 2014

  • Why it's basically impossible to delete those naked selfies you text

    If you're selling an old Android smartphone on an online auction site, you could be giving away rather more than you intend to, according to a recent investigation by anti-malware company Avast.

    July 21, 2014

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 18, 2014

  • Almost half of the world actually prefers instant coffee

    Americans' taste in coffee might be getting more high-end _with a growing fixation on perfectly roasted beans, pricier caffeinated concoctions, and artisan coffee brewers - but it turns out a surprisingly big part of the world is going in the opposite direction: toward instant coffee.

    July 17, 2014

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can plants hear? Study finds that vibrations prompt some to boost their defenses

    They have no specialized structure to perceive sound as we do, but a new study has found that plants can discern the sound of predators through tiny vibrations of their leaves - and beef up their defenses in response.

    July 12, 2014

  • wheat1.jpg Backlash has begun against gluten-free dieters

    The swelling ranks of Americans adopting gluten-free diets have given rise to another hot trend: people calling the whole thing a bunch of baloney.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140516-recalls_1357_88cb85dbc81b724b4ae9c83db4426fd8.jpg Auto recalls break single-year US record with six months to go

    With six months left in 2014, automakers have already recalled more vehicles in the United States than in any other year on record.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • The science of shyness

    Shy people have quite a bit to contend with - not least the word itself. It has a number of different meanings, none of which are flattering. To "shy away" from something implies avoidance; to "shy" can also mean to move suddenly in fright; to "be shy of" something can mean to come up short, or be insufficient.

    July 8, 2014