Already a member? Log In

SVOD Killed the vMVPD Star

jimmy pitaro
If live sports are the last frontier for the pay TV business, that is even more true for the oversaturated vMVPD business. Photo: Mark Von Holden/Variety via Getty Images
Julia Alexander
May 7, 2024

It’s hardly a secret that the tenuous future of pay TV, and those $150+ monthly bills, relies almost entirely on live sports. That’s why Disney is happily forking over $2.6 billion a year for a package of NBA games that represents twice the cost and essentially half the content of its current deal. It’s also why WBD’s David Zaslav publicly kissed up to NBA commissioner Adam Silver at the Milken Conference yesterday—he needs to renew his company’s own TNT deal, also likely for more than twice the current price, especially after lingering negotiation talks left the door open for Comcast C.E.O. Brian Roberts to put a $2.5 billion per annum proposal on the table. My partner John Ourand reported yesterday that Amazon is set to pay $1.8 billion per year for a third package—a harbinger that the streamers will only redouble their efforts to yank live sports rights from the maws of legacy mediacos in the future. 

And that’s just the news from this week. ESPN C.E.O. Jimmy Pitaro is about to launch two direct-to-consumer plays in the next 16 months, including Spulu, the joint venture with WBD and Fox. ESPN’s recent $800 million deal for a women’s NCAA package now seems like a bargain. Meanwhile, as Ourand previously reported, RedBird and David Ellison’s interest in Paramount Global is motivated, at least in part, by CBS’s recently renewed NFL rights deal, which runs through 2033. And after the NBA rights question is settled, all the attention will likely focus on the UFC—the next major league with media rights on the block. (It was notable that UFC C.E.O. Dana White popped up at Netflix’s epic and raunchy Tom Brady roast on Sunday.) And Netflix, of course, just signed a deal with WWE.