The reason cable bills have been soaring can be summed up in a single word: live sports. Yes, that’s two words, but the gist of a report this morning in the Los Angeles Times is that sports — one word — is to blame for high cable bills.
The report quotes Adam Ware, head of digital media at Tennis Channel, saying: “Live sports is the most valuable content on the planet.”
The article adds: “Last year, Americans collectively spent 31 billion hours watching sports on TV — a 40% increase from a decade ago.”
Sports is essentially holding the pay-TV model together, according to the report. “While Internet streaming options including Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.com offer thousands of hours of scripted shows, there is little in the way of live sports. So sports fans remain tethered to their cable bundle,” The Times notes.
However, the erosion of support for the pay-TV model appears to be accelerating. The report notes that pay-TV penetration peaked in 2009. “Since 2010, basic cable channels, including ESPN, TNT and Discovery, have lost more than 8 million subscribers,” The Times reports.
Even so, the numbers surrounding sports on TV remain impressive. “Sports programming generates $30 billion a year in revenue for TV companies, according to Barclay’s Capital,” The Times reports.
And there’s this: “Broadcast and cable TV executives teed up more than 127,000 hours of sports programming last year, according to audience measurement firm Nielsen. That represents a 160% increase compared with 2005.”