ABC Affiliates Decry Migration of Sports to ESPN

By Andrew Gauthier 

Mediaweek

ABC’s affiliates are not only in a battle with the network over retransmission fees, but they are also boiling mad that corporate sibling ESPN is being handed live sports events they were initially supposed to carry.

The most recent move came in January when ESPN announced it planned to take eight Nascar races this fall off ABC for the coming season to run on ESPN. Even before that, though, ABC coughed up the Rose Bowl beginning in 2011 and golf’s British Open in 2010 to ESPN, which is majority-owned by Walt Disney, the full owner of ABC.

Station executives argued that losing live sports events will not only cost them significant ad revenue and take away a negotiating chip with media buyers, but will also hamper their ability to promote other programming to male audiences. The latter is particularly true among ABC’s Southern affiliates, where Nascar viewing is passionate. More…

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