Future of College Sports and TV

Saw this article:

The TL;DR is that content providers (in this case Disney) and cable companies (in this case Charter) are locked in a death grasp. Content providers want more money, in part to cover increasing costs, and in part why not; cable companies don't want to pay any more than they have to for a shrinking part of their business. Charter is even threatening to leave the cable TV business altogether and just become a broadband provider. In that space competition is increasing, especially with wireless broadband from the likes of T-Mobile and Verizon; but (for now) the business remains lucrative.

How does this impact Tech?

What this means is that, like with other content businesses like books and music, there may be less consumer spending on content generally, pushing down prices and revenue for the same content.

The dissolution of the Pac-12 over the lack of a media contract is just the canary in the coal mine. I could see this unfolding three ways, none of them mutually exclusive:

1) An ebbing tide lowers all boats; when the conference media deals come up for renewal, there may be less money on the table next time.

2) This accelerates driving the most valuable properties into a superleague that dominates the revenue. Oddly, according to the article, ESPN got its valuable carriage and subscriber fees from offering a variety of sports products, from ratings-busters to the obscure. Would this result in ESPN sacrificing viewership for ratings? In other words, this could be a zero-sum game for the Mouse as they grow a small set of high-consumption users while losing others who aren't as attached to the product due to their team not getting significant coverage. Disney needs to ask if they want a small group of super-users who will pay a lot of money, or a larger number of users who will pay less.

3) Maybe in conjunction with #2, new content players enter the arena and content is transformed into products that don't exist today, at unknown price and revenue points. 10+ years is an eternity in this business.

Tech and the ACC at large may find that having a media contract locked down for the next 13 years to be incredibly valuable; there might not be as much money next time. In fact, the viability of ESPN may even become more of a risk than, say, the flight of Clemson or FSU, or the leagues may become the more powerful partner at the negotiating table.

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