By Ken Reed
Sports fans aren’t happy campers these days.
First of all, there aren’t any sporting events going on due to the pandemic. No basketball. No hockey. No baseball. No college or high school sports.
But they are also upset that they have to keep paying big sports fees on their cable and satellite TV bills at a time when there aren’t any sports broadcasts to watch.
“If you are not giving the service, why do I have to keep paying for it?” said Joyce Sanz, one such sports fan.
It’s not an unreasonable question, especially given what other industries are doing for consumers.
For example, auto insurance companies are giving refunds, credits or discounts to their customers who are driving a lot less during the pandemic.
“We insure more cars than anyone and we see from our claims activity people are driving less. This dividend is one of the ways we’re working to help our customers during this unprecedented situation,” said Michael Tipsord, chairman, president and CEO of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.
However, sports cable/satellite fees are a little more complicated than auto insurance premiums because cable and satellite companies have to pay networks like ESPN for the right to distribute their content. The ESPNs of the world probably won’t give cable and satellite distributors refunds, credits or discounts unless the pro sports leagues give them refunds, credits or discounts on their rights fees.
Nevertheless, Verizon is looking at ways to reduce what their approximate four million Fios TV subscribers are paying. Fios is Verizon’s bundled internet, telephone and television service.
“We don’t want to charge our customers for content they aren’t watching and receiving,” said Erin McPherson, head of consumer content and partnerships at Verizon. “Whether that is going to be in the form of a refund or discontinued billing, we are looking at all of those options right now.”
DAZN, a sports streaming service with a minor footprint in the United States but a big one in other countries, has reportedly told some sports leagues they will defer payments for suspended or canceled games.
It’s a safe bet the sports programming financial tug of war will likely only get more intense as upset sports fans continue dealing with the lack of sporting events to watch.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
- "How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Ken Reed's Author Page on Amazon
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
A League of Fans Special Report