Cable pioneer John Malone warned that the runaway cost of sports programming poses a threat to the pay-TV industry. He said rising cable bills may be reaching the breaking point for consumers, adding that it’s time for sports channels to be moved to a separate tier, allowing customers to decide whether to pay for them.
Whether you are a wild-eyed fanatic or a sports agnostic, you are paying a lot in your monthly bundled cable-TV bill — about 50% of the programming costs — for football, baseball and other live games. And that price will continue to rise for two basic reasons: The audience for sports is vast and insatiable, and media companies are spending billions more each year for the broadcast rights to keep fans glued to their TVs.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is taking steps to start a U.S. sports network on cable TV aimed at challenging ESPN, according to people with knowledge of the situation. While a final decision hasn’t been made to move forward, the company is considering converting its Fuel action-sports network to the new channel, two of the people said.