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TV Sports Figures Look to Future

March 13, 2008 2:21 PM

The second day of IMG’s World Congress of Sports featured two recent champions with connections to the entertainment industry addressing the crowd—New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch and Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner—but it was the meeting of the minds between arch-rivals that took the day.

The annual conference featured a panel projecting the state of sports media in 2013. Taking part in the discussion were Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports; Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports; David Levy, president of Turner Sports; Adam Silver, deputy commissioner of the NBA; and John Skipper, executive VP of content for ESPN.

Both Turner and ESPN invest heavily in exclusive matches online via their respective outlets PlayOn and ESPN360. Executives from both companies acknowledge that while there is a loyal, sizable audience for the sports that air on the broadband channels, they still are fine-tuning the most appropriate business model for those outlets and television will continue to dominate the spectrum.

Looking forward to 2013, the executives noted they’re bracing for a free-for-all as rights for nearly every single major sport, with the exception of the NBA, will expire in that timeframe. At the same time, they urged caution on “spiraling” rights costs.

While Turner, Fox and ESPN all likely will play major roles in the bidding process for those sports, ESPN’s Mr. Skipper noted that the company would not bid for any of those sports unless it came packaged with broadband content the company could use for its other outlets.

As for sports poised to grow and/or explode in the next five years, soccer and women’s softball were among those the executives thought would be in the best position to grow audiences and brands into the next decade.

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