I DECIDED TO STAY WITH COMCAST. Yes, you read correctly. I made the decision yesterday after coming ‘thisclose’ to switching to Verizon.
This is the reason and in no way do I take back anything I said previously (below) about Comcast. I simply used my head instead of my heart, and took the better deal.
Everyone’s decision is different – I’ll share my parents’ – but I live in a Philadelphia high-rise. Comcast is by far the easiest company to use in my building. I’ve asked the management to ask the board to look into competition and a group deal. (More on the group deal in just a moment.) Fios isn’t offered here and satellite dishes have been ruled legal, but I face the north side and am closer to the bottom of the building than the top.
I was able to overcome both of those obstacles back in South Beach and loved having DirecTV. Then at Riverwood, also in Miami, the condo management had negotiated deals with Comcast for basic cable that were part of our maintenance fees. Anybody could pay more for extras. I wish we had a similar system here for hundreds of units (twice the number there) that would also include basic internet.
I really looked into Verizon, which I use for my cell phone, and had a nice online chat about a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Buying the device would clear up the need for the internet – however, I went to the store and they were honest. The device would use data. The amount of data would depend on how much I use it, and I have the perfect amount for right now. I come very close to the limit but don’t exceed it. On the chat, I was told I could pay $20 more every month for unlimited data, but found out that wasn’t true when they checked at the store. Instead, they’d have to start the bill from scratch and I’d pay $40 more every month. Also, the speed would be much less than Comcast’s offer.
Comcast started as usual, a pain in the ass.
You’ll remember, or see just below, on Thursday, I threatened them and told them to look at this blog post that the world can see.
On Friday, I tried to call but they had their outage. After not getting through twice, I talked to a computer that told me my wait should be less than five minutes. I hung up after listening to oldies for an hour-and-a-half.
I would not do frustrating work with Comcast over the weekend, knowing my point was made on the blog, out there and even updated from the original.
Monday, we had a l-o-n-g series of Twitter direct messages.
They asked for my name and phone number. Then they told me the phone number “provided pulls up more than one account” and asked for my address. I gave it to them and told them to lose the two former addresses where I used Comcast, because those accounts have been closed for so long.
I’d been told specifically to ask for the loyalty team but got the social media corporate team. I insisted they read the blog because “I’m not repeating anything. I wasted enough time chatting & waiting to talk to Comcast people,” and I was in a rush. They didn’t know part of that rush was to get to the Verizon store, so they’d better be quick.
After a little more back-and-forth, and mentioning a similar increase for my parents, I was at the bookstore.
This is what Comcast offered:
Note the price went down by $20 from the original, but they didn’t give an exact total including taxes and fees. Eventually they did, and it was just $30 more than I was paying, better internet speed, and a DVR that would let me stream programming anywhere (once I learn how that works because I may have had the DVR before and never used it). I haven’t noticed any change in channels.
But I was unfamiliar with the approval form and away from home, using only my phone.
Eventually, I made it from the bookstore to the Verizon store and as I explained, they were honest that they couldn’t offer a better deal without Fios.
I have a digital antenna and can see all the local stations and subchannels for free.
I could’ve bought two more digital antennas since I have three TVs, but would’ve still needed the internet, as I explained. I already had a device that’s supposed to act as a mobile DVR that comes with a place to insert Roku or anything else.
But it’s also summer, when the networks are into reruns and a lot of nonsense, so I figured it would be less expensive and easier to stick with cable instead of making multiple changes I couldn’t be sure about. Potentially losing the news channels didn’t play much of a role, since I can read and stream the news, and I’m not planning on getting back into what so much TV “journalism” has become.
So that’s my story. Yesterday, Comcast ended up being very, very nice – and the better deal.
As for my parents in Florida, they got a similar Comcast increase for cable and the internet, but somehow their new bill was $100 more than mine!
I suggested since they have AT&T for their home phone (but are on my Verizon cell phone plan), they should consider switching to AT&T for the internet, which I had in Florida, and AT&T-owned DirecTV, which I really liked many years back when it was under different ownership.
That would make three different AT&T products for them and probably cost a lot less money. I hope they’ll be tough with Comcast and lucky with AT&T.
ORIGINAL FROM THURSDAY:
I don’t know how many of you still have cable TV or satellite these days. It seems everyone is a cord-cutter.
Looks like I’m about to join the crowd, and would appreciate your experiences and suggestions.
I have basic cable and internet. Nothing special. The fees have been going up, little by little for the past year.
Last month, I paid $131.54. This month’s bill came today and Comcast suddenly wants $185.09!
Mark my words: That will not continue. In fact, if I pay that one time, all the regulators will hear from me. Has anybody ever seen me bluff?
You’ll understand a lot more when you read the “chat” Glenjoe and I spent an hour preparing for you to read!
Then, my plan was that when I was done publishing, I’d call the Comcast Loyalty Team. That way, they could read this, instead of me having to explain everything all over again, so I can eat. But I had to be done by 9! Didn’t happen. Not even close. So tomorrow.
And why should I have to call? Doesn’t Comcast offer phone service?
Plus, how will they react after this story titled “Consumer Reports’ ‘What the Fee’ campaign targets Comcast for its TV, sports fees” in the Philadelphia Inquirer, posted online yesterday afternoon?
Keep reading. This is the transcript. Enjoy the back-and-forth more than I did!
Meanwhile, I’m glad I got a phone number because these two similar promotions of many I’ve gotten and saved over the past few months have different phone numbers. I wonder if they offer different prices.
Then, of course, is the point of the Inky article: the fees. Yes, there are taxes and franchise fees, but I’m going to focus on cable and satellite companies paying retransmission fees to the broadcast TV stations they carry because they’re more my expertise. Those are the stations we could get for free by antenna, if we chose to.
This is that part of my bill Philadelphia customers get.
Notice Comcast charges me $7.50 every month for TV stations and $6.75 as a regional sports fee.
Don’t forget we’re talking about the conglomerate Comcast. They own a lot.
First, I’m very, very angry those broadcast TV fees don’t go directly to the area TV stations for what was negotiated (forced on Comcast so we, the customers, pay for something we could get for free).
Second, Comcast owns WCAU-NBC 10 and WWSI-Telemundo 62 here in Philadelphia. I’d also be very, very angry if those broadcast TV fees are not in line with those TV stations’ ratings. NBC 10 may be a very distant second place to WPVI-6 ABC, so I’d think NBC 10 should get a very distant second amount, compared to 6 ABC. Isn’t that similar to the cost advertisers pay, but advertisers pay by program? And NBC 10 could promote Telemundo 62 all it wants but that doesn’t mean many people watch. Its retransmission fee should be relatively tiny. I’d love to know how much each station makes. They are federally licensed and regulated, so I suppose it’s possible.
One thing is for sure and that’s that Comcast-owned TV stations had better not be making more money than they deserve, compared to the competition. Otherwise, it may be a violation of a condition it agreed to when it bought NBC Universal.
And as far as the regional sports fee goes, is there any other than NBC Sports Philadelphia, formerly Comcast SportsNet? Yes, they pay to show Phillies games, which used to be free, over the air, before retransmission fees had been invented. Apparently that one cable station I hardly ever watch doesn’t get the whole pot of $6.75!
I know because on our bills, and between pages 3 and 4 of the transcript, it says both regional sports and broadcast TV fees only “recovers a portion” of the costs. So what happens to the rest? All customers should be angry!
(And speaking of sports, the NFL Network is not regional, so the April article in the Inky, “Comcast bumps NFL Network up a tier, adding $10 for the network,” is a separate fee for subscribers who want that particular channel.)
Anyway, it’s now well after 10pm. I spent that last 30 minutes with a computer that keeps freezing. I’m hungry, but I can’t wait to talk to somebody in Comcast’s Loyalty Team tomorrow. I’ll have that lucky person read this first.
On the other hand, your best advice on cutting the cord would be very appreciated below in the comments section.
Thanks to you, and of course Philadelphia-based Comcast. Yes, it’s a hometown company!
And please, don’t miss out. If you like what you read here, subscribe to CohenConnect.com with either your email address or WordPress account, and get a notice whenever I publish. I’m also available for writing/web contract work.
There are two big changes in weather: The snow has stopped and The Weather Channel is being sold.
Also, you can say the owner is a real person for two more reasons: The new owner is not a partnership between three corporations, like in the past – and he was one of the stars of the TV show Real People!
The Weather Channel and Local Now streaming service had been owned by The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast/NBCUniversal. Deadline pointed out those groups “experimented with longer-form programming and big-name talent” such as Al Roker and Sam Champion.
October 2014, Wikipedia
It also said Allen, “comedian-turned-entrepreneur, has been growing his Entertainment Studios, which became the largest independent producer of first-run syndicated programming.”
“This lawsuit was filed to provide distribution and real economic inclusion for 100% African American-owned media. The cable industry spends $70 billion a year licensing cable networks and 100% African American-owned media receives ZERO. This is completely unacceptable. We will not stop until we achieve real economic inclusion for 100% African American-owned media.”
“The industry spends about $50 billion a year licensing cable networks in which 100 percent African American-owned media receives less than $3 million per year in revenue from that $50 billion stream of money that is spent to acquire content.”
Allen also accused media companies of adding insult to injury by throwing money at Sharpton, employed by Comcast-owned MSNBC – saying they used “the least expensive negro” to “cover” up their track record of “blatant” discrimination.
January 2015, flickr
Official White House Photo
On top of that, Allen called President Obama “bought and paid for” by Comcast.
“What happened in the Obama administration is former (FCC) commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker voted for the merger of Comcast NBCU and then 90 days later took a much higher paying job with Comcast after granting them the merger,” Allen said. “That was betraying the public’s trust as a public service.”
As of April 2017, that suit was pending. At least part of it had been dismissed, but Allen was appealing. I could not find anything on Entertainment Studios’ website while searching for Comcast, Warner, Time-Warner, or Sharpton.
Byron Allen: Black people are doing worse under President Obama.
Byron Allen standing by his controversial comments.
But he sued AT&T and forced the company’s subsidiary DirecTV to pick up seven Entertainment Studios Networks channels.
Looks like Allen has turned out to be the most successful of the Real People cast!
A look back at Real People:
Byron Allen heads to cheerleading school:
Byron Allen visits a bar on Venice Beach where disco on skates is king:
Byron Allen visits the experimental aircraft convention and talks to vets:
The syndicated Byron Allen Show, 1989-92.
We may have learned the fates of seven TV stations that will be divested if the $3.9 billion Sinclair-Tribune merger I’ve written against time and time again is allowed to happen.
Wikipedia calls him “an American political commentator, entrepreneur, author of a nationally syndicated conservative newspaper column, and host of a daily radio show and a nationally syndicated TV program called The Armstrong Williams Show.” The South Carolina native is also the largest African-American owner of television stations in the U.S.
“for president in 1948 as what the press called a Dixiecrat.” …
“He said that ‘on the question of social intermingling of the races, our people draw the line.’ And, he went on, ‘all the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, into our schools, our churches and our places of recreation and amusement.’
“His opposition to integration, which he often attributed to Communism, was the hallmark of his career in Washington until the 1970’s. In 1971, he was among the first Southern senators to hire a black aide — in recognition of increased black voting resulting from the legislation he had fought. From then on, black South Carolinians, like all other residents, benefited from his skills as a pork-barrel politician who took care of the home folks.
“‘We’ve looked out for the state,’ he said in a 1999 interview, ‘and everything that was honorable to get, we got it.’”
The name of the company came from both William’s mother’s middle name, Howard, and his father’s middle name, Stirk.
On President Trump’s “s__thole countries” comment: “An indictment about what’s in his heart.”
African-American conservative and South Carolina native talks about removing the Confederate flag.
Sinclair has been known for using shell corporations like Cunningham Broadcasting to own stations while Sinclair actually operates them, including programming them and doing everything else true owners would do, as an attempt to get by the rules.
Williams has been in business with Sinclair – a corporation with overtly and pushy conservative leanings – before.
Armstrong Williams on President Obama’s “arrogant and dictatorial style.”
The backstory is that Williams helped Sinclair buy Barrington Broadcasting. He got NBC affiliate WEYI-TV in Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Mich., and CW affiliate WWMB in Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C., BUT according to Wikipedia,
“Both stations remain operated by Sinclair under a local marketing agreement, which resulted in allegations that the company was simply acting as a ‘sidecar’ of Sinclair to skirt FCC ownership rules. Williams defended the allegations, noting that he had full control over their programming, and received the majority of their revenue.”
He did buy five other stations, three from Sinclair.
Williams’ website has the headline “Howard Stirk Holdings seeks to acquire 7 local affiliates in early 2018!” (really in six cities) and a picture with logos, but no article. At least it says “seeks.”
I found connections to the Sinclair-Tribune deal in all the stations pictured, with just a question about one.
Let’s take a look at the stations (clockwise on above graphic):
* Sinclair’s WLRH-35 in Richmond, Va. (Fox affiliate with CW on subchannel), since Tribune owns competitor WTVR-6 (CBS affiliate).
* North Carolina’s Triad (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point) is where I have my big question. Sinclair owns WXLV-45 (ABC affiliate) and also WMYV-48 (MyNetworkTV affiliate). Tribune owns WGHP-8 (Fox affiliate). I would expect one of those three to go, but the logo on Armstrong Williams’ website is for WCWG-20 (CW affiliate). Just last month, Hearst bought that station from Lockwood Broadcast Group, but it had already been operating the station under a shared services agreement. Hearst also owns the market’s NBC affiliate, WXII-12, making a duopoly. How any other owner would fit in, since Hearst just finished the sale and got a duopoly last month, is a mystery to me – unless The CW plans to change its affiliated station in the market. Note the station already has a good owner that puts a newscast on it, but nothing – not even public service — compares to money when it comes to broadcasting. (Also keep in mind, a month ago, Sinclair made a case to the FCC it should be able to own more than one of the top four stations in Harrisburg, Indianapolis and Greensboro, N.C.)
* Sinclair’s KDNL-30 in St. Louis. This weak ABC affiliate with lousy ratings canceled its local news in 2001. From 2011 to 2014, a competitor aired news for it at 5 and 10:00. Then came a year with Family Feud and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire instead of news. Since 2015, it has been airing The Allman Report, which says it has a “debate-driven format,” at 5 and 10pm, and 6:30am. But what about news? Click here for the station’s website’s People page. Notice it’s empty! Tribune owns two competitors in St. Louis: KTVI-2 (Fox affiliate) and KPLR-11 (CW affiliate). Sinclair filed to own two stations in this market. The St. Louis situation could come down to which stations are and are not part of the top four rated in the city, per FCC rules. Read below for details.
* Tribune’s KZJO-22 in Seattle (MyNetworkTV affiliate), since Tribune also owns KCPQ-13 (Fox affiliate that Fox itself really wants to buy), and Sinclair owns both KOMO-4 (ABC affiliate) and KUNS-TV51 (Univision affiliate) there.
* Sinclair’s KOKH-25 (Fox affiliate) and KOCB-34 (CW affiliate) in Oklahoma City. Tribune owns both KFOR-4 (NBC affiliate) and KAUT-43 (independent) there.
* Dreamcatcher Broadcasting’s WGNT-27 (CW affiliate) in Norfolk, Va., which is operated by Tribune, while Tribune also owns WTKR-3 (CBS affiliate) there. Sinclair owns WTVZ-33 (MyNetworkTV affiliate) in Norfolk.
No price has been announced, but it was reported a few weeks ago Sinclair will sell WPIX-New York for a measly $15 million to Cunningham Broadcasting, owned by Sinclair’s founder’s survivors, and WGN-TV Chicago for just $60 million to Steven B. Fader, chairman of Baltimore-based Atlantic Capital Group and business partner of Sinclair executive chairman David Smith in Atlantic Automotive Corp.
That’s peanuts. Pennies on the dollar. No stations above even come close to WPIX-New York or WGN-TV Chicago, each worth hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe a half-billion. But Sinclair will get to run them and possibly buy them back within eight years, if the rules are relaxed further by then.
Both Sinclair and Tribune own many TV stations. You just got a taste of how each company by itself owns several stations in several cities, and that number grows very large – too large for federal regulations – if combined. That means some stations will have to be spun off.
As I’ve written, Fox has wanted to buy several of those stations, especially Fox affiliates in cities with NFL football teams. Both Sinclair and Tribune own several Fox affiliates.
“Fox is in talks to acquire at least six stations from Sinclair, a source confirms. Discussions center Tribune-owned Fox affiliates in five markets — Seattle (KCPQ), Denver (KDVR), Salt Lake City (KSTU), Sacramento (KTXL) and Cleveland (WJW) — and a CW affiliate in greater Miami (WSFL) … contingent upon Sinclair winning regulatory approval for its $3.9 billion Tribune acquisition.”
Whether Fox will get to buy those stations remains to be seen. That’s because:
— Sinclair is already the nation’s largest TV station owner, based on the number of Americans its stations reach. That’s how the count goes, and Sinclair wants as many different people watching its stations – or able to pick them up – as possible. It probably won’t sell more than what’s necessary.
— Of course, it helps to own more than one station in a city, since synergies can save millions of dollars. As a small example, the company will only need one person to answer the phone. Both companies have pushed the legal limit on duopolies, and Sinclair has already asked for waivers. Again, it probably won’t sell more than what’s necessary.
— Fox will need money to buy all those stations, and it planned to sell its film, television, 22 regional sports networks and international businesses to Disney for $52.4 billion – but that plan is no longer certain.
There could be two stumbling blocks for Fox to sell everything but its broadcast network, TV stations, news and business channels, and its FS1/FS2 cable channels.
Reuters reported a group called Protect Democracy Project sued in District Court in Washington for any records of communications on the deal between the White House and the Justice Department, plus “any related antitrust enforcement efforts by the DOJ, to find out whether the president or his administration is improperly interfering with the independence of the DOJ out of favoritism for a political ally.”
Rupert Murdoch, Wikimedia Commons
According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, President Trump attacked AT&T’s $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner. However, he even spoke to Fox owner Rupert Murdoch in December and congratulated him on his Disney deal!
Fox owns Fox News Channel, which Trump likes, and Time-Warner owns CNN, which the president does not like.
“sets limits on the number of broadcast stations – radio and TV – an entity can own, as well as limits on the common ownership of broadcast stations and newspapers. As required by Congress, the FCC reviews its media ownership rules every four years to determine whether the rules are in the public interest and to repeal or modify any regulation it determines does not meet this criteria.”
*Newspaper and Broadcast Station Cross-Ownership: No “common ownership of a full-power broadcast station and daily newspaper if” the station completely encompasses the newspaper’s city of publication, and they’re in the same Nielsen market, except if the newspaper or broadcast station is failed or failing (or they were grandfathered in). I’ve even come out in support of Fox saving the New York Post from extinction!
*National TV Ownership: No limit on the number of TV stations. (It used to be five.) Now,
“a single entity may own nationwide so long as the station group collectively reaches no more than 39 percent of all U.S. TV households. For the purposes of calculating the ‘national audience reach,’ TV stations on UHF channels (14 and above) count less than TV stations operating on VHF channels (13 and below), this is also known as the UHF Discount.”
The UHF Discount – established in 1985, according to Variety – only mattered when we used antennas because UHF stations had weaker signals and were harder to watch. That’s why they only counted half as much as a VHF station. (It wasn’t until 1965 that the FCC required all new TV sets sold in the U.S. to have built-in UHF tuners to receive channels 14+!)
“We need to take a holistic look at the national cap rule, including the UHF discount,” Pai said of the item. “The marketplace has changed considerably due to the explosion of video programming options and various technological advances that have occurred since the cap was last considered in 2004. So we need to examine whether our rules should change accordingly. That’s an important discussion that will be informed by the facts in the record—not anything else.”
“Giving a single broadcaster the means to buy up enough local stations to exceed the 39% cap is inconsistent with the statute and must be rejected.”
*Dual TV Network Ownership: No merger between ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. Remember how NBC’s old Red and Blue radio networks were separated?
*Local TV Multiple Ownership: A company can own up to two TV stations in the same area if either:
*The service areas – known as the digital noise limited service contour – of the stations do not overlap. (I take this to mean Grade B overlaps, where people living in between two markets – like central New Jersey in between New York and Philadelphia, and Boca Raton in between Miami and West Palm Beach – can pick up stations in both cities that are owned by the same company. But, for example, CBS owns stations in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, so there must’ve been waivers.)
*At least one of the stations is not ranked among the top four stations in the DMA (based on audience share), and at least eight independently owned TV stations would remain in the market after the proposed combination. This is important: ratings and number of competitors. Keep them in mind as you read further. According to Wiley on Media, “The Commission determined that a minimum of eight independently owned and operated television stations was required to preserve competition in local television markets” and “The FCC concluded that top four station combinations had the potential to provide a single firm with an unacceptably high market share.” This is why Sinclair-Tribune can’t simply keep the two highest-rated stations in a big city if the sale goes through, or more than one in a smaller city.
*Local Radio/TV Cross-Ownership: Restrictions are based on a sliding scale that varies by the size of the market.
*In markets with at least 20 independently owned “media voices” (defined as full power TV stations and radio stations, major newspapers, and the cable system in the market) an entity can own up to two TV stations and six radio stations (or one TV station and seven radio stations).
*In markets with at least 10 independently owned “media voices” an entity can own up to two TV stations and four radio stations.
*In the smallest markets an entity may own two TV stations and one radio station.
*Local Radio Ownership: Restrictions are also based on a sliding scale that varies by the size of the market, but there’s no need to go into it here.
So the bottom line for now is that at this point, we’re learning some more about what Sinclair and Tribune intend to do with other stations they won’t be allowed to keep if their deal goes through — but whether their deal goes through — and whether Fox is able to buy the stations it wants because Comcast outbid Disney for Sky, but still needs approval — is up in the air(waves).
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P.S. In the spirit of weather, here were Casey and Frisky yesterday. As usual, Frisky (left) was more interested in Mother Nature’s show than Casey (right).
Same thing in New England. Their team was in the Super Bowl and they don’t get sick of Tom Brady nor Bill Belichick. They watch.
But what about the rest of America? Apparently two thirds of Americans did not watch. And this was the Super Bowl!
Imagine how that would translate to Thursday night National Football League games, known for having bad matchups and also being available on the NFL Network and streaming, besides being broadcast on a local TV station.
But three weeks ago, Fox decided to pay a fortune — $3.3 billion for the rights for five years, and expanded digital highlight rights — and the money it’ll cost is going to trickle down to you and me.
Let’s talk schedules, the reason and then the money.
(Not many remember Fox trying to take Monday Night Football from founder ABC back in early 1987, even before it started programming. That didn’t work and it took until 1994 for Fox to get an NFL package. Oh, and five times as much money as CBS would bid!)
These days, Fox doesn’t have much of a regular Thursday night lineup. The NFL would draw viewers.
“We look forward to continuing our terrific long-term partnership with the NFL on Sunday afternoons with more than 100 games per season (Lenny: many in markets where the home teams are playing) including next year’s Super Bowl LIII.”
The last NFL schedule expansion was in 1987 when ESPN started carrying some Sunday night games. It was the first time the NFL aired games on cable and they only took place in the second half of the regular season. Two years later, the NFL added games on TNT in the season’s first half. TNT aired those games until 1997, when ESPN took the whole season. Like today, games in each competing team’s home market also aired on a regular TV station, so the games were not cable-exclusive but close. But the arrangement ended after the 2005 season.
That’s because NBC had no football for seven seasons and was desperate to get it back. It had lost AFC team away games to CBS, which itself had been outbid by Fox for NFC team away games.
NBC was given flexible-scheduling for most of the second half of the season, meaning it can “steal” regular Sunday games from CBS or Fox that are better than what was on its original schedule, and the whole country can watch.
When that happens, NBC will tell the league at least 12 days (two Tuesdays) before, and move that CBS or Fox game to NBC. However, CBS and Fox can “protect” five Sunday afternoon games over six weeks, weeks 11-16. Also, the league can move games between 1pm to the more-watched 4pm ET slot.
Now that you understand that, Thursday night games were actually added back in 2006 and air on The NFL Network, so the NFL could push cable and satellite companies to carry the network very few people were able to watch (and thus charge the subscribers more, which is the crux of this post).
It wasn’t until 2014 that Thursday Night Football got real recognition. The NFL decided to let a network produce the game – which would air on The NFL Network — but let the producing network simulcast some of the games. That’s what CBS did in 2014 and 2015, and NBC joined to split the Thursday package in 2016 and 2017. The contracts for the rights were short.
That’s when Fox decided to pay a fortune – much more money – for a longer period of time, over five years.
There are several reasons, which may or may not turn out to be right.
Add the Thursday rights fee of $3.3 billion to the cost of producing all the games, estimated to be even more than that, and you wonder how Fox will pay for it all.
That’s where you and I come in.
For years, if a TV station wanted to appear on a cable or satellite company’s lineup, then the cable or satellite company would have to pay the TV station. Otherwise, the TV station could take away the right to carry it, the station would not air on the cable or satellite company’s lineup, the viewers wouldn’t be able to watch it, both sides would blame each other, and finally there would be a secret agreement and our prices would go up.
That happens all the time.
But the TV station doesn’t get to keep all that money the cable or satellite companies pay it. The networks figure they’re the reason the TV stations are worth so much to the cable and satellite companies, and demand their share in retransmission fees.
Also, it used to be that a network would pay its affiliates in every city to carry its commercials (which kept them in business), and the programming that surrounds them (that attracts more people to the commercials and therefore more money). That has been completely reversed and it’s called – of all things – reverse comp, meaning compensation. The stations now pay the networks.
And when a network decides to pay for a special event, it asks its affiliates to help out.
He also says it can happen to stations in AFC markets because Thursday night games have teams from all over competing, not mostly the NFC but nearly equally the AFC.
That means Fox stations can expect a call from the network demanding more money for providing better programming – especially in cities with NFL teams – and that may not be so bad, considering what Fox airs on Thursday nights these days? (Do you know?)
And where will these stations get that extra money? Sure, selling ads for higher prices, but also demanding to charge your cable or satellite company more when its contract is up — Fox will insist they do — and that will raise your bill.
It has been estimated cable and satellite companies pay ESPN about $6 per month per subscriber. Think about what your cable or satellite bill is. Do you watch ESPN? Would you be willing to go without it and save $6 every month? If your answer is yes, then do you have a choice?
It’s the same story here, but on a much lower, local level. We may be talking about a quarter – 25 cents – every month for the local station if Fox gets Thursday Night Football. Check out your bill and see what you’re paying for local stations (as a whole) every month. And while you’re at it, see what it costs to get your regional sports networks.
And besides calling on stations, New Fox — much smaller after selling what it plans to sell — needs to make money somehow.
It has two possibilities and is reportedly looking into both.
First is to air as many live events as possible. Scripted sitcoms and dramas are expensive. Live programming, especially sports that’s also expensive, is supposed to draw viewers.
Second is to buy more stations. A TV station used to be a license to print money. That’s not the case anymore, with so much competition and paying networks instead of getting paid by them, but life isn’t so bad.
However, there is concern that in the filing, Sinclair said it has buyers for New York and Chicago, and it intends to run the stations through an “options and services agreement” with those buyers. Media watchdog groups have long criticized Sinclair for using shared-services agreements to control stations without owning them, which they see as a loophole around the FCC’s ownership rules.
Sinclair did admit there are eight cities — including Seattle, St. Louis, Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City — where it needs to sell a station to comply with FCC rules on the number of stations a single owner can have in a given market. But again, Sinclair said it has buyers for Seattle, Oklahoma City, and Greensboro, N.C., so it can continue operating those stations after a sale.
On the other hand, Sinclair also made a case it should be able to own more than one of the top four stations in Harrisburg, Indianapolis and Greensboro, N.C.
Last week, The Times learned from New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone and two congressional aides, “The top internal watchdog for the F.C.C. opened an investigation into whether Mr. Pai and his aides had improperly pushed for the rule changes and whether they had timed them to benefit Sinclair.”
People strongly opposed to the mega-deal argue it would reduce the number of voices in media and diminish coverage of local news.
So Fox wants to buy more stations and number one is KCPQ, its Seattle affiliate in the home of the NFC’s Seahawks, and where Sinclair already owns a competing station.
Other NFL cities where Fox doesn’t already own a station are the next biggest possibilities. Keep in mind, we don’t how how the late news of Sinclair’s FCC filing and the FCC’s inspector general’s investigation could change or stop things.
Preseason doesn’t count. Those rights are usually bought locally. Not all of the NFC games air on Fox. Not when an AFC team comes to town. Not when the game is on Sunday or Monday nights, or Thursday night until now.
And a competing station can be the local team’s “official station” even if its network doesn’t carry the games. That means special promotions with the team, greater access and maybe a show with the coach. Not too bad.