Do Sports On Cable Networks Really Raise Cable Rates?

Categories: TV Business

Written By

April 26th, 2010

The LA Times "Company Town" column has a post today with  some cause and effect goofiness on Turner Networks bid with CBS to televise the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament. It's just so easy to rile people up at cable operators and networks for always conspiring to raise our rates!

I poked a little fun recently at the TV media's tendency to take two events and imply causality between them when none can be proven.

In the article linked above, the two events are "more sports are moving to cable" (they are!), and "cable rates are going up" (of course, just like the Sun tomorrow morning!). The leap of implied causality becomes "more sports on cable drives up cable rates!" Not proven!

Cable networks negotiate their subscriber fees based on some combination of their network's ratings, their perceived indispensability, and their overall network portfolio (big network groups likely gain leverage vs. small ones), but attempting to put those things together in a cause and effect is pretty much impossible to prove, but that doesn't stop the TV media!

In that spirit, let me serve up some unproven causality of my own from the top networks in the most recent list of cable network subscriber fees (from fall 2009):

Disney Channel (#4 subscriber fee, behind TNT) "Children raise cable rates!"

Fox News (#6) "Conservatives raise cable rates!"

USA (#7) "Welcomed characters raise cable rates!" more likely "High ratings raise cable rates!", but that's no fun, it blames viewers.

MGM HD, HDNet Movies, HDNet (#9, 10, 11) "Movies raise cable rates!"

CNN en Espanol (#12) "Spanish speakers raise cable rates!"

Sadly, we were asked not to publish the list we have of networks and subscriber fees, but you really don't need it to have some fun of your own, take any network, and whatever it does, and that raises cable rates!

 
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