M/E Insights - Sports 2010

Sports and media are deeply intertwined. Sports rely upon the media to promote and economically support their industry.

Similarly, sports provide all forms of media with content and product necessary to drive many of their economic engines. Sports and media are symbiotic. This issue of Insights is all about the current intersections among sports, media, business and the law.

A few numbers and historical facts are interesting in order to frame the impact of sports and media: The first Olympics commercially broadcast were in Rome, during the summer of 1960. NBC’s host, Jim McKay, was not even in Rome, “but sat in a studio

at Grand Central Terminal tapping out his nightly scripts on a portable typewriter as editors spliced together the half-hour shows.” The Road from Rome, Newsweek, David Maraniss, July 26, 2008. “Sometimes the tapes were still cold from the belly of the

jet, and McKay and the editors would stick them under their armpits to warm them up.” CBS paid less than a half-million dollars for the rights. In contrast, the U.S. television rights for the 2010 (Vancouver, Winter) and 2012 (Summer, London) Games, just fifty years later, cost NBC $2.201 billion—beating offers by Fox and ABC/ESPN during 2003 bidding. Sports are very big business; and, with big business, come big challenges and big opportunities. This issue of Insights speaks to those challenges and opportunities. Sports develop, build and support a whole variety of media properties. ESPN is a great example. Founded by Bill and Scott Rasmussen, ESPN was launched in 1979 as a new cable television network, just as cable television was emerging. The original programming vision was to cover sporting events only in the state of Connecticut. However, it was less expensive to purchase a 24/7 satellite feed compared with daily blocks of several hours each for only local coverage. A national network was born. ESPN began filling their 24 hours with a variety of sporting events. Let us now fast forward to the beginning of the 2006 NFL season: ESPN began airing “Monday Night Football,” an ABC institution for 36 years. The price-tag: $1.1 billion for eight seasons.

We are pleased with the variety and depth of this issue on sports and media law, which you read in full below.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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