The news of ESPN's mammoth new deal with the NFL to secure Monday Night Football and other program was obviously good news for the WorldWide Leader. As Matt pointed out, the amount of money ESPN will pay over the next 10 years is astronomical, in the neighborhood of $14 Billion. And while it's nice to think about the consequences of ESPN's saturating their NFL coverage even more, or how many more times Jaws will casually curse on the air, there is one person that hasn't been considered much in the wake of ESPN's deal with the NFL... and that would be you, the consumer.
It's been speculated by many that ESPN will force cable companies to raise their prices to help pay for a small chunk of that $14 Billion. Of course, as ESPN has grown throughout the years, they've been able to demand more and more money from cable companies, which in turn, has caused cable companies to raise their prices on consumers. Now, by no means am I an expert on the economics of cable and satellite providers, but a rights contract this massive does give cause for pause. Heck, ESPN president George Bodenheimer basically admitted the network would ask for more money from cable/satellite providers in the wake of the new NFL deal.
I know this might be difficult since you're currently reading a sports blog, but imagine yourself a television viewer who NEVER watches ESPN. Is it fair that the increasing demand of sports fans could potentially raise your monthly cable bill? Apparently something called the American Cable Association does care, and they're prepared to raise some hell. Matt Polka, president of the ACA was quoted in Politico... (linking Politico on a sports blog, who knew?)
“There’s no doubt that sports programming is very popular. But people should be able to choose whether or not they want to pay for it on a monthly basis... Non-sports fans are subsidizing the cost for sports fans,” said Polka, who represents 1,000 small cable companies. If these costs keep going up, lawmakers and policymakers are going to get involved … and ESPN isn’t going to like it."
Polka goes on to suggest that all cable/satellite customers already pay around $5 per month for ESPN and ESPN2, which could rise to help the WWL pay for the new NFL contract. Due to the rising price, Polka and the ACA want to pressure cable providers (with the help of Congress and the FCC if necessary) to place ESPN on a premium "sports tier" instead of part of a basic cable package...