TV subscribers are leaving in record numbers, Canada provides help for its national sports organizations, Mark Emmert and Adam Silver speak up, and UFC soldiers on.
Lack of Sports Driving Cord Cutting
Photo Credit: Comcast
Fewer people are paying for TV. The nation’s cable and satellite providers experienced their sharpest decline ever, losing more than 2 million paying subscribers in the first three months of the year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A MoffettNathanson analysis of the situation cited 30 million U.S. unemployment claims and a lack of sports during the coronavirus pandemic as the main reason. The trend is unlikely to change soon, as the analysts suspect the numbers will get worse in the second quarter.
“Sports are the glue that hold the whole thing together,” MoffettNathanson Analyst Craig Moffett told the WSJ. “Without sports, the system is unraveling.”
Satellite TV suffered the most, with more than a million dropping their service. Cable lost 600,000.
Dish (including Sling TV): -413,000
DirecTV and AT&T Uverse: -897,000
While cord-cutting has been a trend as streaming services take off, it appears they are experiencing growing pains of their own. Analysts estimated YouTube TV, Hulu Live, Playstation Vue – which shut down its 500,000 subscribers in January – fuboTV and Philo grew 75,000 net subscribers, a drop from last year’s first-quarter growth of 590,000.
Canadian Sports Get Government Lifeline
Photo Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
The Canadian sport sector has been granted $72 million by the government to help ease the coronavirus pains, according to the CBC. The federal grant came as part of a $198.3 million program for sports, arts and culture.
“National sports organizations, multi-sport service organizations and sports institutes in Canada are an important part of the fabric of this country,” Canadian Olympic Committee CEO David Shoemaker told the CBC. “That’s a main point of focus for emergency funding, to make sure that they stay viable.”
How the sports money breaks down:
National sport organizations and institutes – $34.5 million
Provinces and territories – $32.5 million
Athlete Assistance Program – $5 million
The grant came just a few days after a CBC report that nearly 70 Canadian sports governing bodies were worried about survival. In related news, the Canadian Football League has requested up to $150 million.
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Photo Credit: Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA President Mark Emmert took to the organization’s Twitter account on Friday, while NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held a conference call with NBA players, offering some insight on how some of sports’ most powerful executives anticipate a return to action.
No Sports Without Students
Emmert said if schools aren’t open this fall, there won’t be sports. While he said school presidents and conference commissioners are on the same page — some haven’t reached that conclusion yet.
“College athletes are college students, and you can’t have college sports if you don’t have college (campuses) open and having students on them,” Emmert said.
NBA Decision In June?
Citing that 40% of league revenue comes from game nights in arenas, Silver was wary to say fans would even be able to fully return to arenas next season. He also told players a decision to return to this season might not be made until at least mid-June.
Return to play likely would be in one or two potential sites, like Orlando and Las Vegas
NBA wants to conclude with a seven-game playoff structure
Possibility next season starts in December
UFC Back In The Cage
Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
UFC was back in action Saturday night in Jacksonville, Florida- with fewer than 150 people in the arena and no fans in the seats. The event featured an extensive health and testing protocol outlined in a 25-page plan, according to Bloomberg, that may set guidelines for other sports looking to return to action. One of the 24 fighters, Ronaldo Souza, tested positive for COVID-19 the day before the fight, causing his bout to be canceled, but all others went on as planned.
President Trump expressed support for the event in a taped message that was aired by ESPN. “Get the sports leagues back. Let’s play. Do the social distancing and whatever else you have to do. We need sports. We want our sports back. Congratulations to Dana White and UFC,” he said.
UFC has more incentive to return than simply giving the country a boost in morale. The company’s contract with ESPN requires 42 events in order to collect $500 million in fees, amounting to 70% of UFC’s revenue. Partial owner Endeavor is also looking for cash as it seeks to raise $250 million to offset losses during the pandemic. UFC, meanwhile, would rather have attention focused inside the octagon and away from a $5 billion lawsuit alleging abuse of monopoly power to hold down fighters’ pay.
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The Professional Bull Riders were one of the first U.S. professional sports leagues to return to live competition amid the coronavirus pandemic – PBR CEO Sean Gleason will be discussing how it did that in a special episode of Fundamentals today at noon ET.
Question Of The Day
Are you an active subscriber to cable or satellite television?