Friday, January 03, 2003

The NFL on Pay-Per-View

The networks are losing their shirts carrying National League Football. The Wall Street Journal reports the gory details:

"Fox took a $387 million charge in 2002 against earnings to pay for the NFL. Industry executives estimate ABC is losing more than $100 million a year on its broadcast of "Monday Night Football." Despite this season's increase, NFL TV ratings are down more than 10% since the current network contract began in 1998. The cost picture isn't improving: The networks' annual payments to the NFL -- an average of $500 million to $600 million -- are scheduled to escalate in the last three years of the current eight-year deal."

NBC estimates that it would have lost $1 billion over the last five years on the NFL, had it not "lost out" in the bidding for broadcast rights. Ever true to form, CBS maintains that it does not lose money on its NFL contract. I'm not sure if this is corporate vanity or corporate mendacity. But it ain't true.