Bob Smizik

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Lots of talk in the sports world recently of enormous regional TV deals for MLB teams and similar network packages for college conferences. Guess who's paying the freight on those deals?  Guess who's going to start paying more? This story deals with Southern California, but what's happening there is applicable all over the country.


The new owners of the Dodgers are expected to get $6-billion-plus for the TV rights to their team's games.

That may be a big win for the home team, but consumers won't be doing high-fives once they see their pay-TV bills.

The average household already spends about $90 a month for cable or satellite TV, and nearly half of that amount pays for the sports channels packaged into most services. Massive deals for marquee sports franchises like the Dodgers and Lakers are driving those costs even higher. Over the next three years, monthly cable and satellite bills are expected to rise an average of nearly 40%, to $125, according to the market research company NPD Group.

So far, people seem willing to pay. But the escalating costs are triggering worries that, at some point, consumers will begin ditching their cable and satellite subscriptions.

Read the rest of the story.

Comments (38)Add Comment
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written by LetsPlay2, December 03, 2012 - 04:09 PM
*t seems to me tat California should just succeed from the union and do their own thing. The people there obviously have TOO MUCH MONEY as it is.
Didn't Californians just vote for higher taxes?
What's an extra few bucks a year for meaningless sports entertainment?

LOL

We 'Bughers have nothing to worry about. Pitt Sucks, Pirates Suck. Pens aren't coming back soon and if you don't have a television you can always go to your local watering hole to catch the Steelers.
smilies/cheesy.gif
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written by 123, December 03, 2012 - 04:09 PM
This is actually the opposite to what has happened to the NHL. Because it's such a niche sport, it can't get big national or regional cable deals because not enough people would complain. And so it's back to exorbitant ticket prices which even the hardiest Pens fans on this blog agree is a problem.

I think the Pens and Pirates make similar amounts on their Roots deal but the Pirates have double the games and more than double the capacity per game to spread the cost out...and they have better forms of revenue sharing with MLB.
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written by Nutting4Xmas, December 03, 2012 - 04:17 PM
Yeah, California should become the first new successionist
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written by Darkhorses, December 03, 2012 - 04:42 PM
Just as long as I get Greg Brown and John Wehner calling the action with Range Resources strike zone and AGH replays
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written by LetsPlay2, December 03, 2012 - 04:42 PM
Secede. My bad.
They are all donkeys for paying that kind of coin AND voting for higher taxes.
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written by head22, December 03, 2012 - 04:46 PM
Thats why I have to laugh at all the fans who don't or won't "pay" for a ticket to a professional sports game because they don't want to support the outrageous salaries or the greedy owners.

Whether it be cable TV rates or how much beer and soda costs we are all paying.
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written by AHab35, December 03, 2012 - 04:48 PM
@123

While I'm increasingly angrier about the NHL lockout every day, I do appreciate that they are sticking up for competitive balance. Because if the NHL backs down and an MLB environment takes over, the Penguins could quickly become the Pirates.

MLB is turning more and more in to European soccer, a sport of haves and have nots where the primary distinguishing trait is dollars. No, its not absolute but with each passing year (or say five year increments) the pendulum swings more to the high dollar teams.

I do not want the NHL to become like that which is why I support the owners efforts to get HRR down to 50% and eliminate cap circumventing contracts.

Competitive balance is what makes for a great sport.
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written by PGH Realist, December 03, 2012 - 04:49 PM
Don't worry the Rooney's will milk the difference out of the fans and the city! No big TV deals here. Small market team and all. But, we'll pay for a new stadium for team that had 9 straight losing seasons, none since the new stadium was built and none in sight. California may be dumb, but if that is the case...we are stupid.
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written by TheBestManagementTeaminSports, December 03, 2012 - 04:59 PM
When is the tipping point? It has to be coming. Sports leagues (and I am including college football in this) are completely tone deaf to the public's finances and the fact that their disposable income's are relatively fixed. Meanwhile, these sports leagues continue to have their hands in people's pockets as they continue to want more and more.

People can say "enough is enough". We (meaning us fans) could settle the NHL strike tomorrow if every season ticket holder cancels their season tickets and also files lawsuit on the interest held by these franchises.

We can stop this ridiculous conference expansion by writing our cable companies and refuse putting these created conference networks such as the B1G or Big 10, 12, 14 whatever they are at now....honest poll time. How many of you out there in this area has watched any BTN programming outside of maybe a PSU football game? I don't know of any sports fan who has. It is time to stand up to pro (and college) sports. It is time.
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written by better days coming, December 03, 2012 - 05:03 PM
PGH Realist,

You lost me. What do the Rooneys have to do with any of this?

Thanks.
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written by csf, December 03, 2012 - 05:07 PM
I'm a PSU and cannot tell you the last time I watched the B10 network .... probably last winter, maybe longer.

But what makes me angrier is how the taxpayers freqeuntly pay for stadiums but the rich cats reap the profits.
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written by csf, December 03, 2012 - 05:08 PM
clarification ... I'm a PSU 'alum'
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written by BUCCS72, December 03, 2012 - 05:08 PM
I am all for competitive balance too AHab35...but the Pens will never become like the Pirates regardless...not as long as Burkle and Lemeiux own the Pens.

Burkle and Lemeiux will spend as much as they can without losing money to put a competitive team on the ice. The Nuttings won't.

Nutting apologists are always saying that the Pirates and MLB need a salary cap like the NFL to restore competitive balance. I agree a cap would go a long way in restoring competitive balance but as long as the Nuttings own the Pirates, Pittsburgh fans also would need MLB to instill a salary floor as well.

People forget sometimes that the Rooneys and most NFL teams spend pretty much to their cap limit each year. We may argue about how they spread that money out...but the Steelers are always within a percent or two of the maximum amount they are allowed to spend on player salaries. In fact....the Steelers and many NFL teams are always coniving to figure out ways to EXCEED the salary cap.

Now you Nutting apologists ask yourselves this question: would you expect the Pirates to spend to the salary CAP limit if there was a cap in place? And an even sillier question......would you expect Bob Nutting to be coniving to find ways to EXCEED the salary cap limit??? Hhahahahaha...that's a good one!
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written by ironcityinJax, December 03, 2012 - 05:13 PM
This is why I laugh when certain people say they are "boycotting" the Nutting Pirates. If you pay a cable bill for any package that contains ESPN you are supporting the Nutting Pirates in your own little way. Now, add on the cable bill you pay living in, for example, Dodger country and the fact that the Pirates probably will get some money from the Dodgers via "revenue sharing" and you are again supporting the Nutting Regime. And I am sure he thanks you when he looks at his pocketbook. But hey, keep up the fight!.
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written by PittandthePendulum, December 03, 2012 - 05:28 PM
BOB...you are VERY right...they are real close to killing the Golden Goose....we agree...for once!!!
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written by Pecos Bill, December 03, 2012 - 05:37 PM
Saw an interview with a Yankee fan on TV the other day who claimed the cost to attend a game in Yankee stadium was $600.00 for a party of two.The major sports leagues are no longer concerned with stadium attendance. Their money is made through these sports networks.

Pittsburghers who now reside in Columbus, OH and are AT & T U-verse cable subscribers lost Roots Sports in July the last two seasons. In 2011 Roots Sports was part of our regular package. In 2012 it returned at a higher price as part of the HD package. Each year we lost them in late July.

I've seen first hand the devastation Clevelanders experienced when the Browns bolted to Baltimore. Hopefully we Pittsburgh fans never have to go through that experience be it the Steelers, Pens or lowly Buccos. While I am sypmpathetic with those who remain in the Pgh area who want to jump ship, I'll take a poorly operated Bucco organization over AAA baseball anytime. Be carefull what you ask for. You never fully appreciate things until they are gone!!!!

FACISM is alive and growing in the US. The Supreme Court has said corporations are now considered people. That means bend over and pay the piper!!!!
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written by kennedy6500, December 03, 2012 - 05:40 PM
I don't get this at all. It seems like the old model of cable TV, where every customer pays for every channel on a given tier, is coming to an end. More and more people are getting all their television through various Internet outlets and bypassing Comcast, Xfinity or DirecTV altogether. All I need are the four broadcast networks, 3-4 news channels, 7-8 sports channels (I know, I know) and then a few of the premium movie channels. And that's it. Instead, I get like 400 channels I never watch. The model is not ready yet, but it is coming and sports may be left holding the bag.
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written by heartbeatsings, December 03, 2012 - 06:07 PM

Within the next 5 years the changes in technology in how people watch TV will threaten to bankrupt the major Sports Leagues.

Product delivered through the internet is already available that bypasses the the cable box and the cable company. This could grow to 30% of the households within 5 years.

The effect will be that non-sports fans will no longer be subsidizing the sports channels. Would you pay $100 per month to watch the Pirates on your tv?


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written by Hanover Bill, December 03, 2012 - 06:29 PM

As our cable bills escalate through the roof, here is a little known fact which the cable companies don't want any of us to know. "THERE IS TV WITHOUT CABLE", yes you read that correctly. You can buy an outside antenna for around $100.00, point it in the right direction, and get upwards of 30 channels, now granted they aren't all necessarily the channels of your choice, but none the less it is TV.

I am willing to wager the money I didn't bet on yesterdays Steeler game that the majority of you out there had no idea that this was possible, exactly what the cable companies want you to think. Most people probably think you can only get a few stations, if any, without cable, not so. I know if my cable bill continues to creep up this is exactly what I intend to do, and no doubt as better and better antennas come on the market more channels will become available.

Wouldn't you love to give the cable company some of their own medicine, me too.
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written by griffirs, December 03, 2012 - 07:18 PM
Monopoly owners playing uniquely skilled players vast amounts of money in markets that are neither free nor genuinely competitive. Baseball needs a hard salary floor to force out owners like Nutting-who appear to keep keep their total player payrolls at or near their welfare payments from the central fund and revenue sharing. A floor would reqire the owner to have some of his own skin in the game-declining revenues from offering a terrible product for 20 years would actually reduce cash flow, instead of producing a justification for evermore stringent (relatively speaking) player cost controls.
And there should be a hard compensation ceiling too, so that there is some degree of cost certainty. Because the costs of those ridiculous contracts are passed through directly to the fans. Increasingly, the players and owners are pricing blue collar fans and the middle class entirely out of the market. Baseball is no longer America's Pastime, but neither Bud nor the owners nor the players union care one little whit. Its all about the money, nothing else.
And maybe the antitrust exemption needs abolished. If there were five MLB teams in each of the NY and LA metro markets sharing publicly funded venues, there would be more jobs for players and the players would still make enormous sums of money but not offensively enormous sums of money.
I always believed baseball was better on the radio than the telly anyway. So, like most fanatics, I will pay whatever SiriusXM charges me for the right to hear any and every game on satellite radio, along with every pro football game. If I was genuinely inspired, I could make a "statement" about the narcissism and greed in MLB by cancelling SiriusXM, but I haven't and won't. If the local cable company charged me anything extra for Root Sports, out it would go. This ownership needs to field a winning team before I invest money directly in attending, watching or listening to Bucs' games.
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written by heartbeatsings, December 03, 2012 - 07:23 PM

@hanover bill: Not in pittsburgh, lol, with all of the hills and vales. Plus, the quality of the over the air digital signal sucks, with frequent interruptions, pixel freezes, etc.
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written by Rich W, December 03, 2012 - 07:44 PM
written by heartbeatsings, December 03, 2012 - 07:23 PM

@hanover bill: Not in pittsburgh, lol, with all of the hills and vales. Plus, the quality of the over the air digital signal sucks, with frequent interruptions, pixel freezes, etc.


Seriously. I'm deep enough in a valley where I don't even get cell reception. Still, when the whole digital/analog change was happening, I checked out one of those sites that tells you how long your antenna needs to be and which direction to point it in. I'd need more than 50ft which wouldn't fly here. My SIL on Long Island uses them though and they're OK. It's flat there though.
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written by pitt77psu82, December 03, 2012 - 08:36 PM
I have had direct tv since 1996 to watch the Steelers on Direct ticket. I quit last year when the price went to around 300 a year. Price dropped to199 this year and I got it again. I'm a Yankee fan and also get the baseball package and find it worth the money. probably will drop football next year as I'd rather walk the dog or play golf. Call me crazy but it's pretty cheap entertainment with a lot of choice. But their is a price point where I will turn it all off.
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written by pghfan1992, December 03, 2012 - 08:37 PM
The Internet is going to be the first to bring alacarte choices for tv subscription. Apple, Google, Amazon, HULU and others are in the planning/release phase. Check out:

http://internet-tv-sites-review.toptenreviews.com/

The faster this gets adopted the better off we all are as consumers and the faster we see the inequality of tv finances level out in sports.

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written by lordbyron, December 03, 2012 - 10:28 PM

Good find, Bob.
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written by Woomer, December 03, 2012 - 11:35 PM

There's so much content available online these days, that there's no reason to pay a fortune for cable or satellite.

I have Comcast cable and I get only the most basic cable package for $17/month. But it still gives me about 27 real channels including (for some odd reason) the CBS Sports Network and the Outdoor Channel -- but I'm not complaining.

Anyway, I can get everything else I need from ESPN 3 or from Netflix (which I share with my brother for just a few extra dollars a month).

Yes, I still have to go out to a bar if the Steelers are on MNF on ESPN, but that is both rare and fun. Otherwise, I'm happy with what I have.

Anyway, the point is that cable has already gotten to the price level that I've opted OUT of it for many years.
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written by Miami, December 03, 2012 - 11:41 PM
As our cable bills escalate through the roof, here is a little known fact which the cable companies don't want any of us to know. "THERE IS TV WITHOUT CABLE", yes you read that correctly. You can buy an outside antenna for around $100.00, point it in the right direction, and get upwards of 30 channels, now granted they aren't all necessarily the channels of your choice, but none the less it is TV.

I am willing to wager the money I didn't bet on yesterdays Steeler game that the majority of you out there had no idea that this was possible, exactly what the cable companies want you to think. Most people probably think you can only get a few stations, if any, without cable, not so. I know if my cable bill continues to creep up this is exactly what I intend to do, and no doubt as better and better antennas come on the market more channels will become available.

Wouldn't you love to give the cable company some of their own medicine, me too.


An even better idea, don't watch television at all. Actually from September 2007 to November 2011, the only television I watched was Steelers games and Penguins games online.
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written by BiC, December 03, 2012 - 11:44 PM
This is what I've been talking about for the past few months. The money for these giant TV deals has to come from somewhere -- and that somewhere is going to be our wallets.

Unfortunately, the programming distributors have so much cash they can flood Washington with lobbyists who will shoot down any attempt for a la carte cable plans. If that ever comes to fruition -- the major sports channels will be dropped by a pretty good percentage of people -- and the distributors will be caught holding a very expensive bag. Maybe some states attorneys general can break their stranglehold. We can only hope.

In the meantime, what to do? If you don't like it, you can put up a big antenna again or choose to source your programming from the internet. It might take a few years, but the television distribution companies will become as irrelevant as the music production companies like EMI and broadcast radio stations owned by Clear Channel, etc. It's all going to be web based.

written by LetsPlay2, December 03, 2012 - 04:42 PM
Secede. My bad.
They are all donkeys for paying that kind of coin AND voting for higher taxes.


First of all, I live in California. There is no talk about seceding as there is in places like Texas -- even though we should because for every dollar we pay into the US Treasury -- we only get .70 back. If we could cut out Federal outflow to the point where we're even -- our state would be comfortably in the black.

Secondly, I'm not a donkey -- nor is half the state as the voter registration numbers are approaching 50% Democrat, 25% Republican and 25% Independent.

Third, while the tax increases were passed -- they were passed by a majority of people who were led to believe by massive advertising campaigns funded by this state's ridiculous public employee unions that unless they voted yes -- schools were going to be cut to the bone, parks were going to be closed, there would be no medical care for the elderly, etc. So guess who voted for it?: The boneheads who thought they were going to pay the least amount in new taxes because they thought it was a personal income tax increase -- even though it's a regressive sales tax increase.

I was born in Pittsburgh. Every relative I've got is still there except my brother and parents. After graduating high school in 1981, I migrated west because something about watching the Steelers play the Raiders in December and January in incredibly nice weather appealed to me.

Yeah, this place has its faults. Illegal aliens running amok. Pie in the sky types who have some really goofy touchy feely ideas about government and life. You can't buy a decent house near a big city for less than $800,000. Gas is always 50 cents a gallon more than anywhere else.

However, the positives far outweigh the negatives. The weather's fantastic. Played some golf this afternoon, even. The streets are built to a higher standard -- so you're not stuck on some dopey two lane road behind a guy waiting to make a left hand turn because there's no turn lane.

There's a terrific entrepreneurial spirit here that just doesn't exist anywhere else. We're far, far, FAR more positive and open minded than anywhere else. That's why you see everything from interesting entertainment to retail to technology concepts come from here -- because people are upbeat and willing to try instead of being sour and only looking at the potential of failure.

I like Pittsburghers for the most part -- but like Californians -- they aren't perfect, either. A little too comfortable with the status quo. A little too risk adverse. Still some of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet, though -- except for some of the executives who work at places like WESCO, Kennametal, ALCOA, and Heinz. Bunch of very close minded, very rude jerks.
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written by DaveK, December 04, 2012 - 12:16 AM
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written by better days coming, December 03, 2012 - 05:03 PM

PGH Realist,

You lost me. What do the Rooneys have to do with any of this?

Thanks.

-----------------------------------------------------


Nothing at all, but some people just have to flap their lips about the same thing no matter what the topic. Its foolish.....at best.

Everything is the Rooney's fault....even things that have nothing to do with them.
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written by Daquido_Bazzini, December 04, 2012 - 02:08 AM
written by ironcityinJax, December 03, 2012 - 05:13 PM
This is why I laugh when certain people say they are "boycotting" the Nutting Pirates. If you pay a cable bill for any package that contains ESPN you are supporting the Nutting Pirates in your own little way. Now, add on the cable bill you pay living in, for example, Dodger country and the fact that the Pirates probably will get some money from the Dodgers via "revenue sharing" and you are again supporting the Nutting Regime. And I am sure he thanks you when he looks at his pocketbook. But hey, keep up the fight!.
------------
Here in Santa Monica......ESPN comes with the basic Verizon FIOS package.
The two year deal I got about a year ago was TV, Internet and phone.
The TV portion if the bill is about 23.99 plus tax.
Just how much money do you think Bob Nutting is making off of me every month?
Your point is absurd.
Keep fighting the fight....Against the fight.
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written by heartbeatsings, December 04, 2012 - 08:20 AM
Just how much money do you think Bob Nutting is making off of me every month?


@Daq: Off of you, pesonally? probably about 2 cents. Now if you would upgrade to the premium tier, mayb the Pirates would go out and get some players.
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written by jayh63, December 04, 2012 - 08:46 AM
But, we'll pay for a new stadium for team that had 9 straight losing seasons, none since the new stadium was built and none in sight.


When you look at what other cities and states spend to build new stadiums, the Pittsburgh deals look like a bargain. I believe the city paid for 1/3, the state 1/3 and the teams had to kick in 1/3.

The state of Maryland paid 100% for the Ravens stadium yet the Ravens get to keep all the profits from concessions, parking, concerts, etc. And the MD tax-payers paid for 100% of the infrastructure around the Redskins stadium.
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written by ironcityinJax, December 04, 2012 - 09:51 AM
Keeping dropping money in to Nutting's pocket DAQ, he appreciates it. ESPN doesnt exist without you the viewer, MLB doesnt get a fat check from ESPN if you the viewer do not subscribe and Nutting does not get help from MLB if it does not get the ESPN check.

Unlike you and your co-horts, I am not of diminished capacity and understand that each individual subscriber only contributes a small amount. The point is that unless you eliminate anything that even indirectly touches MLB you are contributing to the Regime. Plain and simple.
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written by Daquido_Bazzini, December 04, 2012 - 10:35 AM
Heart - I could be wrong, but I think you've over estimated.
I'd say its about 2 cents a year.
I'll tell you what ....If Bob Nutting sells the team to competent ownership, I'll pay double for any and all packages.

Jax - Only penny pinchers like you and Bob Nutting would worry about my two cents a year.
Furthermore ....I don't have time to be concerned with such things
As for a diminished capacity.... I'll always know that someone is below me as long as you're around.
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written by heartbeatsings, December 04, 2012 - 01:01 PM

@Daq: I don't have the exact figures, but about 50 to 75 cents of what ESPN is getting from your monthly fee is going back to MLB to broadcast their games, and this is then split up among the MLB teams, with some taken off the top.
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written by TheBestManagementTeaminSports, December 04, 2012 - 01:06 PM
You know....there are alot of blog columns where it is right to kick the Nuttings. This is not one of them. They are not relevant to the subject matter.

Stay on point people. Focus.

I am thinking that sports has gone past the point, where soon they will realize they are pricing themselves out. Advertisers will want some return for their money. Like I mentioned with the BTN (Big Ten Network) people in Pittsburgh don't watch it. At all. They surely won't in New York. Programming like that may sell in Ames, Iowa but not big city markets. I only bring this up because this ridiculous college football realignment stuff is strictly driven based on potential TV markets.

I don't care how many tv sets are within your "reach", if they are not turned on to your network then eventually there will be ramifications from your advertisors.
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written by BlueSky, December 04, 2012 - 07:43 PM
Ownership of ANY professional sports franchise, is the ultimate "BUY and HOLD."
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written by StillerfaninDEN, December 05, 2012 - 07:51 AM
written by TheBestManagementTeaminSports, December 04, 2012 - 01:06 PM
Advertisers will want some return for their money. Like I mentioned with the BTN (Big Ten Network) people in Pittsburgh don't watch it. At all.


-----Right because there arent any Penn State grads living in Pittsburgh,great argument against the BTN

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