Returning to my piece from the other day on the implications of viewership erosion
with respect to the long-term viability of the Dodgers' TV payouts, I got into a protracted discussion with Jon Weisman on a private Facebook baseball group. He complained that my arguments treat all subscribers as though they were not sports fans. Presumably, sports fans will be more willing to pay for cable packages carrying their favorite team(s); that is, the overall Fox/ESPN strategy is sound, and the cable carriers themselves will have no choice but to hand over an increasing fraction of their revenues to the one thing proven to keep viewer interest.
All right, then. Let us look at a worst-case scenario:
- First, assume cable has become completely unbundled. That is, currently, to some degree the costs of delivering Dodgers (or Angels) content is borne upon people who never view those games. The most recent best-case scenario I was able to come up with was 111,000 average viewers in 2009, a number that might be low; roughly double it and round down to the nearest hundred thousand, and admit 200,000.
- Convert the $3 billion figure to an annual, non-increasing figure: $150M/year.
- Divide the second figure by the first, on the basis that no longer will anyone get a "free ride" from uninterested viewers. That yields $750/year.
I really don't care how much you like the Dodgers, that's a lot of revenue to expect to make. Some fraction of it could be recouped in advertising dollars, but it seems very rich to me.
Labels: dodgers, tv