I’m not passing them on to you. I’m passing them on to Comcast*. It’s up to them if they want to pass it on to you.

–John Skipper, the head of ESPN, on the rising costs of sports rights on cable networks in an interview with Peter Kafka at Code/Media Series: New York.

* Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit is an investor in Revere Digital, Re/code’s parent company.


What a ridiculous quote.  "I'm raising the cost of the raw materials, not the cost of the finished good to the consumer."  I'm sure there is no correlation.

J. S. Greenfield
J. S. Greenfield

He's correct in the sense that cable operators, as a group, have for years been absorbing a significant percentage of programming rate increases, so that the increases to end consumers are much less than the increases actually seen by the cable companies at the wholesale level.

But of course, precisely because of that ongoing absorption, cable television margins are now extremely thin (in contrast to programmer margins, which are obese), and operators really don't have any choice going forward to but to pass through the increases that programmers impose (sports, or otherwise).


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