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Anyone who pays for TV service should have a choice over what teams they want to follow. And anyone with no interest in sports should not be forced to pay a huge premium for something they don’t care to watch. No matter who provides your TV service, the relentlessly rising price of sports has already caused everyone’s bill for basic TV to more than double over the past decade. In many large cities, the cost for fans to keep the same local teams’ games they’ve always had will double still again between this year and next. Many teams, leagues and conferences will deny their most loyal fans access to games in order to get everyone—whether you’re a fan or not—to pay the soaring price of admission. Every TV viewer should have a choice: Fans should have access to the games they want, and viewers with no interest in sports should not have to pay for what they don’t want.


Sports Turn TV Games into Runaway Free Agency, yet You’re Stuck Paying

Every time leagues, conferences and teams take their TV games and act as if they’re free agents, the networks write huge bonuses based on your family paying up. Here’s a fast look at why you’re now paying so much more for the exact same games, and even some new tricks to force you to buy double the tickets to watch one event.

  • College Conferences Cash InSEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 reaped a combined $966.9 billion in the past year, with revenues expected to soar again this year when the SEC launches its own channel and Big Ten renews its second round of distribution agreements. Pac-12 led all the conferences with $334 million in league revenues to Big Ten’s $318.4 million and SEC’s $314.5 million for fiscal 2013, but the addition of SEC Network is expected to add another $15 million to $20 million for each SEC institution (roughly $280 million more) to boost that powerhouse conference back into the lead.

  • Soccer ScoresMLS raises TV prices to soccer games five times higher than ever before, as ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision split up future telecasts for MLS and USA Soccer for $720 million over the next eight years. That’s a combined $90 million per year bonus versus the $18 million fans offset today.

  • $8 Billion in Olympic GoldNBC has TV rights to all the Olympics between now and 2021, but the Peacock Network just shelled out another $7.75 billion to add six more Summer and Winter Games through 2031. At a billion-plus per Olympics, NBC will ask fans to pay more for several of its channels.

  • NBA Ban to Sterling BoonThe NBA had wanted to strip embattled former owner Donald Sterling of the LA Clippers, but Sterling cashed in with a record $2 billion from former Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer thanks to an anticipated bidding war for upcoming local TV rights. The Clips get $25-$30 million each season right now, but Ballmer and the new bosses will want more like the record $200 million to $330 million Time Warner Cable’s paying to televise the Lakers and Dodgers each year.

  • Dodgers Tune OutThe last time 70 percent of L.A. saw much of the Dodgers was the final out of the 2013 NLCS, as the team front office has all but disappeared and the Mayor is justifiably fuming while Time Warner Cable refuses to give loyal fans any chance to see local games unless more than 7 million families as far away as Hawaii pay twice as much for Dodger games. Even the diehards are so outraged that nearly everyone stands pat with DIRECTV, AT&T, DISH, Cox and other local providers rather than trust Time Warner Cable, which wants to pay its $8.35 billion in Dodger dues out of their bank accounts.

  • Roll TideAfter three national titles in five seasons, Alabama tops college football on the field and in most finances. Alabama athletics clears about $200 million every season, and Learfield Media recently doubled its $160 million investment for the Crimson Tide’s multimedia rights. Despite the bigger payday, Bama fans won’t see any Tide football or basketball from Learfield on local stations or cable anymore since the new SEC Network, which begins in August, has all of those less popular match-ups.

  • Final Four Means 12 TV TicketsCBS and Turner pay $10.8 billion to share “March Madness” and the Final Four migrated to cable for the first time this spring. But what’s most notable is that Turner created new “Teamcasts” for each game where it took three versions of the same game – one biased to one team, the other biased to the other, and then the tried and true neutral version – and spread them across three separate channels. Fans in the future won’t be able to get one version without paying for all three.

  • $300 Million in Double VisionCBS is paying the NFL a new $300 million infusion for eight primetime games, returning the most popular league to broadcast on weeknights for the first time since ESPN took over the popular “ABC Monday Night Football” franchise. However, that $300 million covers games that CBS will have to share with the NFL Network, meaning the vast majority of fans pay twice to get the same telecast.

  • Big Ten BucksThe Big Ten is the first major conference to create its own channel of second and third-tier football games, yet has already begun prepping to auction its most popular Saturday afternoon contests to ESPN-ABC, Fox Sports or somebody else for billions again. The Big Ten’s actually grown into the “Big 14” as Maryland and Rutgers chased the dollars and Big Ten Network wants East Coast presence.

  • Less is More for NASCARNASCAR’s fading in popularity, but still gets a 50 percent bonus to keep its races on NBC and Fox. The two will pay $820 million every year through 2024, which means bigger bills for channels like NBC, NBC Sports Network, Fox, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and still other services where the two media giants will spread out NASCAR events.

  • U.S. Open Tennis Faults on BroadcastBig dollars aren’t just for big sports, as U.S. Open Tennis agrees to become cable-exclusive in a new agreement that moves the tournament from CBS – where it’s aired for more than four decades – to ESPN. ESPN antes up $70 million compared to the $40 million CBS gave.

  • ACC Plots NetworkThe ACC hasn’t announced an expensive new channel – yet – but just as the SEC did before, it’s already promoting “ACC Network” within its core ESPN telecasts. ESPN bought up the best ACC games for $3.6 billion in 2011, but ever since, the conference has cajoled Notre Dame, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse to follow the dollars into the ACC to get billions more out of ESPN.

  • Big East MeltdownThe Big East used to be one of the proudest conferences with the most tradition, but that all came to an end recently. Its top schools chased big network dollars elsewhere, and what was left splintered along football and basketball fault lines. Three perennial basketball powers join nine newcomers to create the new American Athletic Conference and Fox pays $500 million to get games for its new Fox Sports 1 national service.


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