Monday, 26 November 2012

Is CBC a Sports Channel?

How much do CBC and the other networks spend on sports programming?  How much advertising revenue do these networks generate?  Does CBC lead all networks in sports expenditures and advertising revenues?

The table below summarizes Canadian sports program expenditures of CBC, CTV and the sports specialty channels in the years 2008 to 2011:

CBC in 2008, a year it held Olympic rights, spent $180 million on sports programming.  This declined to $139 million the following year, the first year of the CBC’s current NHL contract, and increased to about $150 million by 2011.  CTV, as expected, spends very little on sports; it spent virtually nothing in the 2011 broadcast year.  Only in 2010, the year CTV and Rogers shared rights for the Vancouver Olympics, did CTV spend heavily on sports.  That year CTV identified spending $137 million dollars on sports programming, meaning it paid dearly for the Vancouver games. 

The three sports specialty channels, despite having to fill 24 hours a day with sports, each spend less on Canadian sports programming than the CBC.  In 2008 and 2009 TSN and Sportsnet had total program expenditures of between $92 million and $122 million.  In 2010 expenditures of TSN/Sportsnet, who also aired the Vancouver Olympics, increased noticeably and in 2011 both were at $140 million.  RDS spends roughly half what its English counterparts spend, some $66 million in 2011.  So in terms of expenditures on Canadian sports, CBC leads all networks, including the three all sports channels.

The table below shows the total ad revenues of CBC TV, CTV and the sports networks in the past four years:

In 2008, with the help of the Beijing Olympics, CBC had ad revenues of $253 million.  Revenues declined precipitously in 2009, as did the revenues of most companies during the 2008-09 financial crisis; they rebounded in 2010.  Last year total ad revenues of CBC were $246 million.  Sports probably accounts for something like $150 million in ad revenues on CBC TV, or presumably at least as much as CBC spends on sports.  CTV, one of CBC TV’s main competitors, generates much higher ad revenues, $784 million in 2011.  (Global TV, the other main competitor in the marketplace generated just under $500 million in ad revenue last year or about double that of CBC TV.)  But neither CTV nor Global normally derive much revenue from sports.  

Interestingly, even with the hundreds of NHL games carried on TSN/Sportsnet/RDS and the thousands of hours of other professional sports, the total ad revenues of the sports specialty channels are relatively modest, accounting for between $63 million and $129 million in 2011.  So in terms of advertising revenue derived from sports CBC TV generates more ad revenue than its main competitors and the all sports channels.  Of course, the sports channels make additional money from subscription revenues, which come in even when the NHL locks out its players. 

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