Cox Communications Inc. executive vice president Patrick Esser ripped into
George Bodenheimer Wednesday, refuting the ESPN president's claim that ESPN's
net cost is only $1 per subscriber if operators factor revenue generated from
local ad sales.
"It is fuzzy math," Esser told Multichannel News Day, as he noted that
while Cox's ESPN rate will jump to $2.61 per subscriber monthly in August, the
MSO projected that it will generate about 30 cents per subscriber monthly in
ESPN local-ad-sales revenue from August 2003 through August 2004. That makes
Cox's net cost for ESPN $2.31 per subscriber.
ESPN spokeswoman Katina Arnold said Cox makes more money by selling ESPN
avails in packages of local avails from other networks.
ESPN's relationship with cable operators is as tenuous as it's ever been.
Esser said Cox would consider dropping ESPN if it doesn't allow the MSO to carry
the network in a tier after its carriage deal expires next year. "They force
that option on us," he added.
Cox isn't the only MSO considering that extreme option. Mediacom
Communications Corp. CEO Rocco Commisso said Tuesday that ESPN's latest 20
percent rate hike has the MSO "actively considering" dropping ESPN and other
Walt Disney Co.-owned networks.