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Fox Regional Nets: No major loss with no pucks

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  • Forever Nineteen Forty
    As the NHL continues on its collision course with oblivion, particularly in the US, its biggest regional partner isn t exactly in tears... thanks
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 27, 2004
      As the NHL continues on its collision course with oblivion,
      particularly in the US, its biggest regional partner isn't
      exactly in tears...

      thanks multichannelnews
      <<Fox Sports Coping With NHL Strike

      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      by R. Thomas Umstead 12/27/2004 12:07:00 AM


      As the fate of the 2004-05 National Hockey League season should
      be known shortly, Fox Sports Net and its affiliate regional
      sports services have adjusted well to the lockout to date,
      particularly on the financial side.

      At press time, a number of published reports pegged Jan. 14 as
      the day the NHL�s board of governors could vote to pull the plug
      on the entire campaign. Thus far, despite the loss of hundreds
      of NHL games due to the league owners and players dispute over
      salaries, Fox Sports Net president Bob Thompson said most of its
      more than 20 owned and affiliated regional sports networks have
      not suffered major ratings declines in the absence of pro pucks.


      For the most part, the networks have compensated for the loss of
      the NHL by adding more National Basketball Association games and
      college football and basketball telecasts, Thompson said.

      �It�s always disappointing not to have one of our three big
      sports, especially in markets such as Pittsburgh, Detroit and
      St. Louis that are very strong NHL markets,� Thompson said. �We
      miss it from a product standpoint, and some markets miss it from
      a ratings standpoint.�

      But from a financial standpoint, Thompson said Fox has benefited
      from the lockout because it doesn�t have to pay the teams for
      lost games. He added that the lack of NHL rights payments have
      countermanded increased rights fees in several markets this year
      to some extent.

      For example, Fox Sports Southwest anted up a reported $600
      million to secure multi-year cable rights to Major League
      Baseball�s Houston Astros and the NBA�s Houston Rockets, while
      teaming with Fox Sports South to reach a multiyear, multimillion
      dollar pact to acquire basketball�s Memphis Grizzlies cable
      rights.

      In addition, Fox Sports Rocky Mountain will pay baseball�s
      Colorado Rockies a reported $20 million a year through 2014 as
      part of a major TV deal reached this past summer which also
      included minority ownership in the team. The deal keeps the
      Rockies from following basketball�s Denver Nuggets and hockey�s
      Colorado Avalanche to market competitor Altitude Sports and
      Entertainment Network, which launched two months ago.

      �From a financial standpoint, clearly it�s a net benefit not
      having to pay the rights fees,� Thompson said. Fox Sports Net
      officials said it is �premature� to talk about any potential
      operator rebates until the status of the NHL season is
      determined.

      >>
    • mtlhockey@aol.com
      In a message dated 12/27/2004 9:46:25 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... It truly is amazing armed with this kind of information and the fact that the USA in
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 27, 2004
        In a message dated 12/27/2004 9:46:25 AM Eastern Standard Time,
        forever1940@... writes:

        >
        > “From a financial standpoint, clearly it’s a net benefit not
        > having to pay the rights fees,” Thompson said. Fox Sports Net
        > officials said it is “premature” to talk about any potential
        > operator rebates until the status of the NHL season is
        > determined.
        >
        >

        It truly is amazing armed with this kind of information and the fact that the
        USA in general does not even know there is a lockout, the two sides still
        wont get a deal.

        It really does look like the end of the NHL as we know it. I imagine it will
        go back to a very, very small niche league and the players ultimatly will lose
        millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs.... good call guys!

        Brian


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • William Underwood
        Actually it buttresses a lack of urgency for the owners. The owners are starting to realize what a mistake they made in the 90 s when they over expanded
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 28, 2004
          Actually it buttresses a lack of urgency for the owners. The owners are
          starting to realize what a mistake they made in the 90's when they over
          expanded largely expecting a major response in the US. The evidence is
          in....the response has not happened nor is there any real sign that it
          ever will. It also reinforces to the TV folks how poor an investment the
          NHL is in the US. This sends them two messages:

          1-There HAS to be cost control. There is no huge windfall coming. Costs
          will continue to inflate more rapidly than revenue or both with stagnate
          in growth at a point that is unfriendly to the owners.
          2-The amount of damage is debatable. First of all, if most of the US
          doesn't even know there is a lock out will there be an "anger factor"?
          No. It just doesn't care. Will hockey fans that DO watch the game stop
          doing so in places where the numbers are good? No. After all they have
          suffered about every insult in the book and have stayed with the game.
          Thirdly, if it costs them some markets it will be sort of a "peace with
          honor." That is if they have to leave they can blame the players not
          have to talk as much about their product and the pure mistake that it
          was to put it in certain places in the first place. Four, I the end the
          reduced gross revenue will still be a net GAIN for most teams that stick
          around thanks to the decrease in costs. If you are Philly or Toronto,
          you may lose 50% of your main expense. And in the case of a smaller
          market not only does your team survive but you go from losses to break
          even or modest profit. You will be losing franchises that were negative
          cash flows. Thus this softens the blow. And given that most of hockey's
          revenue now comes from the more traditional markets...Canada still pays
          a rights fee for TV, US network TV does not and it is a fair bet that
          more merchandize moves in Philly, New York, Detroit and Toronto than say
          Miami or Raleigh so how much will NET revenue REALLY decrease? So you
          see drastically reduced attendance and possible franchise failure in a
          few bad markets. You might see a "2 billion dollar industry become a 1.5
          billion dollar one with the best assets surviving and the weak culled.
          And the costs slashed dramatically as well as their inflation.

          From the POV of the owners smaller might be better. Hell we even can go
          into another thing that the owners know but can't admit. The league
          would offer a better PRODUCT if it is smaller...more games between
          intense rivals, less games against opponents that draw flies and a
          higher quality game.

          In essence, Fox just told us something that we already know. The game is
          a big flop in most of the US and it isn't really getting better.

          But does that destroy hockey or ruin it? No. The game has done well with
          no major US market for years. Does it mean no growth potential for the
          league? No. It has inched toward getting closer to the Euro market which
          is what it should have focused on to begin with as there IS a market
          there. It will take a lot longer to exploit but it exists to exploit. It
          will take decades to do so but I submit that the league is better off
          that way. First of all it encourages investment in the source of 33 % of
          its playing staff. Euro content has boomed over the past 10 years, US
          content in terms of percentage of the league has actually stayed
          stagnant or moved backwards over the past 10 years. It is an expensive
          game to play there and that won't change. In Europe it is subsidized by
          various sources and more kids can play it. It also puts the bakes on
          over expansion. It will be more gradual than shock effect and occur as a
          market that comes with a built in player source develops.

          So for the owners it offers no real urgency. They even have that handy
          war chest to tap into to alleviate the cost of franchise loss to unlucky
          owners. After all, what else is it really there for?

          For the players I tend to agree that it ought to send a message. If this
          thing doesn't end it could well cost them jobs. If they were smart they
          would realize that it is time to start to talk about HOW to run a cap
          than fight over one's existence. The owners have all of the cards. Even
          the lack of interest of the US market is a card in their hand. It tells
          them "there is no windfall coming, most Americans don't even know that
          you are gone and Canadians (and the Americans that do miss you) will
          come back to the building, we are in no hurry, if this is our status quo
          we need to change the cost structure and THAT is paramount..." To the
          player it should say "a lot of places couldn't care less they mostly
          barely know that you exist and may not have any interest in returning in
          some of them which will mean less jobs and if there is a cap, less good
          salaries...it could effect not only the borderline guys who will be out
          of the league but the odd higher priced vet who will be capped out
          without those clubs..."

          So I half agree. If you are the owners I disagree, it is just another
          impetus for built in cost certainty being needed at any price. But I
          agree that it ought to be a harbinger for the players and Bob Goodenow.
          The USD market is in no frenzy to see this thing end. That means less
          pressure on the owners. And it was such pressure form expected US TV
          revenue and the
          Push for US expansion that largely forced their hand last time. And
          hoped for push out of the US in terms of expansion fees and development
          of a TV deal is not there this time. This is yet more evidence of that.

          But will they listen? No. It is a case of only hearing what you want to
          hear. This is just another voice saying "the gravy train is over" and
          they players are still living in a real denial of that. You can argue
          morally for either side but it just comes back to what I have said all
          along, the owners have all of the cards and can leave the game any time
          they want and the players can't leave the table and don't have much of a
          hand to play. Reality says that they have to recognize this fact or you
          are dead on, it will be the end of the NHL as we and they know it and
          the end result may even be more stark for them than what is on the table
          right now. You could see a new NHL not only with less jobs but a cap
          even lower than what is on the table with no floor and no guaranteed
          deals. That could be the reality as opposed to one with 30 teams worth
          of jobs, and average salary of 1.3 mill, guaranteed deals staying and a
          cap floor. If they think that the scenario can't be worse than the
          current offers, they may well learn that indeed it can...the HARD WAY.

          -----Original Message-----
          From: mtlhockey@... [mailto:mtlhockey@...]
          Sent: Monday, December 27, 2004 3:59 PM
          To: hockhist@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [hockhist] Fox Regional Nets: No major loss with no pucks


          In a message dated 12/27/2004 9:46:25 AM Eastern Standard Time,
          forever1940@... writes:

          >
          > "From a financial standpoint, clearly it's a net benefit not
          > having to pay the rights fees," Thompson said. Fox Sports Net
          > officials said it is "premature" to talk about any potential
          > operator rebates until the status of the NHL season is
          > determined.
          >
          >

          It truly is amazing armed with this kind of information and the fact
          that the
          USA in general does not even know there is a lockout, the two sides
          still
          wont get a deal.

          It really does look like the end of the NHL as we know it. I imagine it
          will
          go back to a very, very small niche league and the players ultimatly
          will lose
          millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs.... good call guys!

          Brian


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




          To unsubscribe from this mail list, send a blank message to
          hockhist-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

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        • mtlhockey@aol.com
          In a message dated 12/28/2004 11:58:20 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... Yes, but you have lost the casual fan. That in some markets can be up to 50% of the fans.
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 30, 2004
            In a message dated 12/28/2004 11:58:20 AM Eastern Standard Time,
            wausport@... writes:

            > 2-The amount of damage is debatable. First of all, if most of the US
            > doesn't even know there is a lock out will there be an "anger factor"?
            > No. It just doesn't care. Will hockey fans that DO watch the game stop
            > doing so in places where the numbers are good? No. After all they have
            > suffered about every insult in the book and have stayed with the game.
            > Thirdly, if it costs them some markets it will be sort of a "peace with
            > honor

            Yes, but you have lost the casual fan. That in some markets can be up to 50%
            of the fans.

            What happens when half the league is averaging less then 50% capacity in it's
            buildings?

            If the season is wiped out you can be at least 6 teams will go belly up in
            the following 2 years. Is that really Bettman's and the owners plans to lose
            franchises? I agree that the league is too big and should retract, but is this
            really what the owners want? Even if they get cost certainty it will be too late
            to save many teams if the season is lost.

            Look what happened to baseball in Montreal after the World Series was lost.
            Also Baseball was in much better shape then Hockey.

            Brian


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • William Underwood
            ... with ... to 50% of the fans. What happens when half the league is averaging less then 50% capacity in it s ... First of all, I m not so sure that you have
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 30, 2004
              >> 2-The amount of damage is debatable. First of all, if most of the US
              > doesn't even know there is a lock out will there be an "anger factor"?
              > No. It just doesn't care. Will hockey fans that DO watch the game stop
              > doing so in places where the numbers are good? No. After all they have
              > suffered about every insult in the book and have stayed with the game.
              > Thirdly, if it costs them some markets it will be sort of a "peace
              with
              >> honor

              >Yes, but you have lost the casual fan. That in some markets can be up
              to 50%
              of the fans.

              What happens when half the league is averaging less then 50% capacity in
              it's
              >buildings?

              First of all, I'm not so sure that you have lost them. Most just don't
              care that much. Hockey is just another thing for them. If it is there
              they will watch it now and again if not--such is life.

              I doubt that you will see half of the league get down to 50%. And if a
              city does get down that much, quite frankly the league probably made a
              mistake letting them in if support is that soft.


              >If the season is wiped out you can be at least 6 teams will go belly up
              in
              the following 2 years. Is that really Bettman's and the owners plans to
              lose
              franchises? I agree that the league is too big and should retract, but
              is this
              really what the owners want? Even if they get cost certainty it will be
              too late
              >to save many teams if the season is lost.

              I'm not so sure that it is as much as what they want as it is acceptable
              damage. Is it better to have a 24 team league that is secure and
              profitable for the vast majority of teams or a 30 team one where nearly
              half (which frighteningly enough is an improvement over the current
              scenario) are in serious red ink?

              >Look what happened to baseball in Montreal after the World Series was
              lost.
              >Also Baseball was in much better shape then Hockey.


              And will baseball suffer without Montreal? No. Montreal has been a
              problem for years! They will be better off with the Washington Nationals
              than the Expos. They lost what has been a weak link for a long time.
              Montreal is an odd market, the only thing that has had steady support
              over the years has been the Habs. They lost football for a while and the
              Allouettes had to move into smaller digs to even come back. They lost
              the AHL and have even lost junior teams in the area. Can you believe
              that we have a QMJHL with no team in the Montreal metro area? Now I do
              believe that junior can work there if done correctly, no overkill of
              teams and playing in a more reasonably sized arena. But actually having
              done my eco thesis on the business of the CFL and a econometric model of
              the Allouettes (I picked that as they were they were a FASCINATING
              modeling project--so many ups and downs and were one of the rare big
              league teams to fold and they were in the process of reorganizing as the
              Concordes...my model came close to predicting the actual opening
              attendance the next year and may have been right on if not for a transit
              strike)I can say that it is dubious that major league baseball had a
              long term future there without a radically different structure. The city
              just won't support a loser, they only have any real loyalty to the Habs.

              If hockey has similar problem sites it will be better off without them
              in the long run. They should either be moved to places that would flat
              out love to have NHL hockey period or folded.

              And I'm not so sure that we will see that many fold. Mind you I'd like
              to see us get the number of teams down and quality up but we may well
              see less culling. And some teams may move...Winnipeg and Portland would
              each look at it so might Houston and maybe we get Quebec back...If we
              have an NHL that is more survivable they would be viable so might some
              markets who if they can weather the storm of an attendance set back for
              a year or two can stay in the league.

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




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            • thegiantdevilfish
              ... would ... we ... some ... for ... The NHL will never go back into Winnipeg and/or Quebec.
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 31, 2004
                > see less culling. And some teams may move...Winnipeg and Portland
                would
                > each look at it so might Houston and maybe we get Quebec back...If
                we
                > have an NHL that is more survivable they would be viable so might
                some
                > markets who if they can weather the storm of an attendance set back
                for
                > a year or two can stay in the league.


                The NHL will never go back into Winnipeg and/or Quebec.
              • William Underwood
                We shall see... First of all the new economic order will be more friendly to them. Secondly, if teams have a real sense of a lack of support they are more
                Message 7 of 7 , Jan 1, 2005
                  We shall see...

                  First of all the new economic order will be more friendly to them.
                  Secondly, if teams have a real sense of a lack of support they are more
                  likely to move than fold. And after Portland and Houston there are no
                  real candidates in the US. And Brian is correct, there could be problems
                  in more than two cities. Hell, regardless of what the outcome of things
                  is Pittsburgh has a problem...Thirdly, it is beginning to dawn on the
                  league that being in a market where they can expect a bona fide 15000 a
                  night beats markets where the number is much smaller. There is NO US TV
                  boom coming, the US market is stagnant at best and after the lock may
                  even be shrinking. Finally they are striving to avoid folds. Then one
                  thing that they consistently say is that they want to maintain a 30 team
                  league. But they don't say "in the 30 same markets..." If there are
                  problems in say 4-6 cities still lets say, it is not out of the question
                  that they return there.

                  In fact a prominent agent was mulling to a fellow scout about a
                  structure where we may see more Canadian teams. He may be wring and just
                  speculating but then again the guy is well plugged in as he represents
                  many of the games top players.

                  Will it happen? Maybe yes maybe no. But the one bad thing to do right
                  now is to say "never". We are getting into uncharted waters more each
                  day. I would personally not be surprised at any number of things
                  happening. Could teams fold? Yes. Could no teams fold? Yes. Could some
                  move? Yes. Could they move to Canada? DON'T rule it out...if it comes
                  down to a very long lock out or if the outcome of the CBA is less than
                  ideal for certain owners or if there is a re launch or if fans flat out
                  remain apathetic in the states. All are VERY real possibilities. In
                  which case what are you going to do, fold up the tent or move to a city
                  where you have large fan support or sell to a group that wants a team.
                  Right now the only city that has openly pursued a team has been
                  Winnipeg. Portland has been pursued by the NHL not vice versa. Houston
                  has not made an offer in a while. So be careful about scoffing at it.

                  But no one really knows what WILL happen. We could see the players come
                  to their senses. We could see limited damage in more markets than people
                  think and more stubborn owners in others. We could see a lot of
                  different outcomes! I have heard it all. It runs the gamut from
                  attempting an impasse (from a friend that knows an NHL owners son) to a
                  re-launch from scratch (from an ex GM who still works in the league as
                  well as a source in the minor pro world who heard it from a mid level
                  NHL exec) to the league splitting into two leagues one Canadian and one
                  American united ala major league baseball (from a fellow scout who heard
                  it from a prominent agent)...and in the end NONE may be right! But these
                  are credible people. None are owners but are well tuned to what is going
                  on. Perhaps it shows that even the owners have several views of what
                  they are looking at doing and really haven't decided a path yet. Or that
                  there is a process involved, first try impasse if that fails re launch
                  and possibly with the Can/Am concept...they all CAN link up that way.

                  But it also can say what I said before we are in uncharted waters. And
                  when credible people are talking that way it says "anything can happen."
                  And the longer we go into this thing the more likely it is that the
                  status quo as we know it may change more sharply. It is a bad time to
                  say "never". People once said that the league would never go back to the
                  Bay area or Atlanta. They did. People said that Espo would never get
                  Tampa it was there for Karmanos...Espo got in. People said Ottawa didn't
                  stand a chance...they did. People even doubted Philly back in the 60's
                  getting in and St Louis didn't even originally apply for a team, they
                  had Vancouver and Baltimore coming in back in 67...what happened? This
                  game is a crazy place! When it comes to internal NHL decisions it is
                  good to take a page from Bond and "never say never". It is doubly true
                  when we get into a scenario like this one.

                  This is what I am not saying ANYTHING about bold predictions on who will
                  end up where and how many will or will not fold. Five years ago you
                  would have been right to think that. The NHL was all hyped up about US
                  TV. US TV has become their Vietnam. Or perhaps I should re phrase that,
                  the NHL has become a Vietnam to the networks...I actually expected that
                  much, but that was not an issue of internal NHL politics it was an issue
                  of cultural tastes which are more predictable than the NHL. So the winds
                  have shifted considerably, especially the longer this thing goes. Does
                  it mean that they will be back in? NO! But could they be back in? We
                  shall see. You may be surprised. Me on the other hand...NOTHING would
                  surprise me, this is the NHL!

                  Have a Good New Year!



                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: thegiantdevilfish [mailto:giantdevilfish@...]
                  Sent: Friday, December 31, 2004 8:35 PM
                  To: hockhist@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: [hockhist] Re: Fox Regional Nets: No major loss with no pucks




                  > see less culling. And some teams may move...Winnipeg and Portland
                  would
                  > each look at it so might Houston and maybe we get Quebec back...If
                  we
                  > have an NHL that is more survivable they would be viable so might
                  some
                  > markets who if they can weather the storm of an attendance set back
                  for
                  > a year or two can stay in the league.


                  The NHL will never go back into Winnipeg and/or Quebec.









                  To unsubscribe from this mail list, send a blank message to
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