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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bye Bye ESPN, Hello NBC

- ESPN's contract to televise the Breeders' Cup runs through 2013. But, given the opportunity to escape, they were outta there faster than Mitt Romney bolted from South Carolina. (Based on early polls, the Mittster may match that speed figure getting out of Florida too.)

“In the last few years, ESPN has reduced its coverage of horse racing and this event no longer fits with our overall content strategy,” an ESPN statement said. [Courier-Journal]
The "event" hasn't fit into their overall content strategy for some time now; almost from the start in fact. The sigh of relief you hear is the sound of ESPN execs who no longer have to pretend to care about it.

Well, I was kinda kidding when I first suggested a number of years ago that the Breeders' Cup be on Versus. Then, when the network picked up the Saratoga Saturdays and some other races, it seemed possible at some point, though not until the contract expired next year. As it turned out, that was nothing two parties couldn't work out if one was desperate enough. And now, Versus is the NBC Sports Network. It and its parent network is the home of the NHL, and now the home of the Triple Crown, the Breeders' Cup, and coverage from two of the premier race meetings, Saratoga and Keeneland. Not a bad place to be in my view. As opposed to being an afterthought if not a nuisance at ESPN, it's now a network priority that you'll see it proudly display, as it always did before the change. I think that should mean a lot to the sport, even if it costs it some households, assuming ESPN reaches more than NBCSN at this point.

The move does mean less broadcast network time for the Breeders' Cup, with only the Classic making it to parent NBC; that opposed to the early races which were shown on ABC the last couple of years. I think that's actually perfect; it's totally appropriate for the big race to get the showcase time to itself. It's always been the case - even before the Breeders' Cup diluted their own "World Championship" event with a plethora of non-World Championship-worthy races - that the event is far too much in one day for mainstream media and casual and/or prospective fans to digest. It's an industry affair. Those of us who are interested will find the races on NBCSN....or at a simulcast facility or ADW if need be. The Classic will be showcased on national TV. Perfect.

Well, almost perfect. I'm not so sold on 8 to 9PM Eastern time on a Saturday night being the ideal time. If we concede that the rest of the races are more suited for insiders, the Classic can still take its place with the Triple Crown races as one to be marketed to the masses. But there's a big difference between 4:30 until 6PM on a Saturday evening, when said masses may very well have nothing better to do, and two hours later, when they're priming and primping themselves for a night on the town. The West Coast venue makes the late start a natural in this particular year, and 'prime time' sounds nice. But I think Saturday night is less prime than other nights. Sunday late afternoon/evening would be perfect at other times of the year, but unfortunately, the network is kinda boxed in by football that time of the year. football season.

And this year, as is the case every four years, the event takes place in the shadow of a horse race of another kind, to be conducted the Tuesday immediately following. Though, based on the steadily deteriorating discourse that we've been seeing in the GOP debates and TV ads, that race may (hopefully) be decided by the quarter pole. It's pretty sad in my view when the "biggest question," as posed by the NY Times yesterday, is:
..whether Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner who bankrolled the “super PAC” Winning Our Future that ran negative ads against Mr. Romney in South Carolina, will write another multimillion-dollar check to finance similar attacks in Florida, where airtime is expensive.
(He is.) That's what politics comes down to in this country these days folks: money, and which side can best utilize it to attack the other side. And that goes for both sides of the political spectrum. Sad.

24 Comments:

Figless said...

Left unsaid is that Belmont will not see another Breeders Cup for the balance of this contract, unless they install lights of course.

Figless said...

PS - I hope NBC uses its power in the industry to get NBC Sports(fka Versus) placed on basic cable.

Dan said...

This is good news. NBC does a much better job that ESPN. I don't like the 8:45 ET post for the classic. This will change habbits- dinner ect however its okay for once a year. I doubt this removes Belmont from getting the BC & I doubt NYRA will spend $ for lights. Belmont would be very cold at night in November.

Anonymous said...

Figless, I thought you were going to start thinking more before hitting the send button.

alan said...

I read somewhere that there's nothing in the contract that requires the race to be in prime time. I think it's just a function of the races being on the left coast this year. And the 'NBC Sports' moniker should surely help gain more households on basic packages.

Anonymous said...

ESPN to NBC is a good move.Obama leaving office next year is another good move.

jk said...

Thank goodness NBC is the home to the NHL where I can catch a game once in a while. With MSG pulled from Time Warner Cable, I have not been able to watch my beloved Isles, or the hated Rangers! How are the Rangers doing anyway, it has been hard to keep up!

No one will miss horse racing on ESPN, for once common sense prevails.

Dan said...

"Anonymous"- You keep rooting for the GOP- Greedy One Percent...

alan said...

>>Obama leaving office next year is another good move.

Well, he's there for the beating, but you guys are gonna fuck this up, lol!!

>>How are the Rangers doing anyway, it has been hard to keep up!

They're doing OK. Have a shot for the playoffs. I'll keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dan - Warren Buffet and the majority of Wall Street are progressive democrats. Get real. Obama is well on his way to putting together 1 billion for his campaign. This money doesn't come from 5 and 10 dollar donations. How much money have Obama donors made in green energy subsidies? Google George Kaiser - another billionaire democrat.

Dan said...

I agree money should be out of politics. The Citizens United case & opened up the door for unlimited contributions to Super Pacs. Both sides have billionaires giving plenty of $ to their campaigns & Pacs.

Buffet believes his effective tax rate should not be much less than his secretary that works & pays over 30% including payroll taxes. The tax code benefits the top 1% and guys like Romney paying 14% on their taxes do not create jobs. Capital gains & "carried interest" should not be taxed at 15%. This is a joke & must be changed.

Anonymous said...

Warren Buffett's Secretary Likely Makes Between $200,000 And $500,000/Year

Dan said...

If she makes $200,000 she will be paying an effective tax rate over 30% for "real work". Why should someone pay only 15% for investment income? This not a job creating plus adds to our debt.

Anonymous said...

Obama's buddy at GE paid 0 taxes.

Dan said...

This is why the tax code needs to be changed & not to just benefit the wealthy.

Figless said...

Dan, the argument is that investing involves risk, so he lower rates are provided as an incentive to invest.

If you lose money on an investment you can only write off $3,000, so if they raise the tax rates on investment income I certainly hope they allow a full current write off for losses or we will see a real economic meltdown.

And the 15% rate applies only to Long Term Cap Gains and Dividends, not interest, for the record.

Dan said...

If the capital gains rate was taxed at 20% or 25% would not cause any meltdown. It would still be less than the top marginal tax rate (35%).

Yes, only $3,000 can be deducted a year however the losses do offset any gains during the year.

"Carried Interest" is a another way of reporting income as capital gains. Yes, interest income from a bank is always ordinary income.

El Angelo said...

Capital gains taxes used to be close to 40%, and rich people still made investments and took risks. What's going to happen if the tax rate goes up, they'll get out of the market and just put their money under the mattress instead?

Anonymous said...

Dan seems happy with a 25% takeout.

Dan said...

I'm all for lower takeout for betting on the ponies. People bet more if they win more money. The issue is that millionaires don't trickle down their $- they keep it for themselves & family. The bush tax cuts were trickle up not trickle down.

Figless said...

@El Angelo, not completely but yes they will sit on a lot of their money, probably moving it into Fixed income assets like bonds.

If takeout on Win bets was raised from 16% to 30% how much would the pool shrink? No different.

Investors will still maintain a speculative portfolio but when any serious investor analyzes a deal the income tax rate is built into the projections and a 15% increase in capital gains rates will kill many deals. Its not only about the market it is about private equity as well, the people that fund start ups and expansion. That pool will dry up.

IF I absolutely LOVE a horse I might still make the Win bet, but my casual wagering would decrease dramatically.

Any investment is a risk/reward decision, and when the reward is minimized fewer deals get funded.

El Angelo said...

Figless, the analogy with the win pool is interesting, but I don't think it applies at all. If the takeout for racing is too high, I'll just stop playing the ponies and use my money somewhere else. If capital gains taxes are "too high"--which again, calling a reversion to the tax rates of the 1990s doesn't strikes me as possibly "too high"--rich people will still invest their funds because they're not going to let them lie fallow. I just don't understand why we should really care if some people's rate of return goes from 30% to 15% in the process.

Dan said...

El Angelo is spot on here. I remember in 2001 when our country had surpluses projected Bush wanted to give it back through tax cuts- horrible move but okay now we have trillion dollar deficits so we need to go the other way & raise taxes on the people who can afford them. I would be okay if all the rates went back to year 2000 as the law now is scheduled to do on 1/1/13.

Anonymous said...

Well, he's there for the beating, but you guys are gonna fuck this up, lol!!
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Hey Alan it's time to put the soap back into your mouth eh. Schmuck