President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The business of America is business.” Perhaps the business of modern-day America is sports. And 2012 was no exception—from sports rights deals to network M&As to the launch of new sports nets and partnerships. What follows is a list, in reverse chronological order, of the top deals of the year. To learn more about sports programming, check out CableFAX Daily’s Special Report to be published Dec 12, which takes a deeper dive into sports programing and examines how athletes and those with active lifestyles consume sports content.
11/26 ESPN reached a 12-year deal for the new college football playoff system. The agreement starts after the ’14 regular season and continues through the ’25 regular season. It includes the national championship game and semifinals, as well as other Bowl games that will be part of the rotation to host the semifinals. Combined with previous deals for the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls, the agreement gives ESPN rights to all games that are involved in the new post-season arrangement to determine a college football national champion.
11/21 News Corp sealed the deal for a 49% equity stake in YES Net, which extended its TV rights with the Yankees through ’42. It’s a bit of a homecoming for YES top execs, with pres/CEO Tracy Dolgin, COO Ray Hopkins and pres, programming and prod John Filippelli all having previously worked at Fox and Fox Sports.
10/30 With Fox and ESPN out of the running, NBCU picked up the exclusive US rights to the English Premier League (Cfax, 10/29). The multi-year agreement starting with the ’13-’14 season provides NBCU with content for 10 months of the year across cable, broadcast and digital platforms. Specifically, NBC, NBC Sports Net and NBCSports.com will air live Premier League coverage, as well as Telemundo and mun2 for Spanish-language coverage.
10/9 As expected, MLB reached a new 8-year multiplatform deal starting in ’14 with Fox and Turner, following its agreement with ESPN in Aug. The deal, which will give MLB products more visibility across platforms, comes with a bigger price tag: Combined with the ESPN contract, the league will earn $12.4bln over the 8 years, doubling the its previous TV rights fees, said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on a conference call. The nets didn’t reveal the financials, but Turner is reportedly paying $325mln/year while Fox is reportedly paying $520mln/year.
10/1 On Feb 14, 2011, the Lakers and Time Warner Cable signed a $3 billion, 20-year agreement to take effect in fall 2012. As part of the deal, Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes were launched on October 1, 2012. Since then, the networks have signed on Charter, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-Verse, Cox and DirecTV.
9/24 Touchdown at last. Time Warner Cable and Bright House finally reached a deal with NFL Network to end the decade-long journey to carriage. What a trip!
9/12 ESPN’s appetite for more games is at an all-time high. Just over a week after it secured a record deal with MLB, the net and Fox Sports reached 13-year agreements with the Big 12 to jointly share the conference’s football over-the-air and cable rights, including digital rights.
8/16 NFL Network and Cablevision reached a multi-year to carry NFL Network and NFL RedZone.
8/15Pac-12 Network started broadcasts. The 7 networks include the national network and 6 regional networks. The programmer has a TV Everywhere model like we’ve never seen before. An MVPD has the rights to offer TV Everywhere live streaming from all 7 networks to customers who are part of a package that includes any Pac-12 network. If an MSO only carried the Pac-12 AZ regional net on expanded basic in their AZ footprint, those expanded basic subs could actually receive live streams of ALL 7 networks once they were authenticated.
6/29 The Big 10, Pac-12 and ESPN get to keep the Rose Bowl till at least 2026. The extension, which begins Jan ’15, includes rights to the annual Rose Bowl Game across ESPN platforms through 2026. Additionally, ESPN has secured rights to distribute the game in 3D and around the world through ESPN International. Each year, the game will be played on New Year’s Day at 5pm or on Jan 2 when Jan 1 falls on a Sun.
6/7 Rupert Murdoch’s joint venture with ESPN ended. News Corp will buy out ESPN’s 50% stake in ESPN STAR Sports. The deal will allow News Corp to own and operate all of ESS businesses while offering ESPN more independence and flexibility in future support of Walt Disney Company’s Asia operations. As a result of the buyout, Manu Sawhney, ESS md, was replaced by Peter Hutton, svp, Sports for Fox International Channels.
2/21 It’s certain that Jeremy Lin played a part in the end of the Time Warner Cable and MSG standoff. The two reached an agreement for carriage of MSG in time for the Knicks-Hornets tip-off. But it sounds like NBA commish David Stern also had a role in helping break the impasse. Lin’s hotness put pressure on both organizations—TWC because of fans desire to see him, and MSG to strike while the fire is hot.
1/10 DISH inked a big deal with Univision that makes it the 1st distributor to launch Univision’s telenovela, sports and news nets.
Perhaps the most talked-about sports event of the year is the London Olympics. And nowhere did the value of digital media in sports get a greater test than in NBCU’s marathon Olympics telecast, which exceeded just about every expectation on the ratings and digital usage fronts. The net, which reportedly lost $223mln on the Vancouver Winter Olympics two years ago, racked up more than 5,500 hours of coverage of the 17-day event. Besides televising on the NBC broadcast flagship and such cable outlets as CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo and the NBC Sports Network (rechristened from Versus early this year), the company relied heavily on online platforms and social media to help build and hold audiences. And before the year ends in 3 weeks, keep an eye out for ongoing discussions between Fox and the Dodgers. The L.A. Times is reporting that the 2 are close to $6-$7bln for a 25-year deal.