For those who subscribe to cable, each month's bill includes specific amounts that are geared towards paying for specific sports channels, including ESPN's family of national networks and also regional sports networks.
Due to the coronavirus shutdowns, there have been no live sports on television for more than a month. But according to a new report, cable subscribers are still paying for those channels- and it would likely take a highly complex tangle of multiparty negotiations in order to change anything about that.
According to Ars Technica, the sports leagues and their broadcast partners have not yet reached any agreement with the major sports leagues on whether they will receive any rebates from games that aren't played. No such agreement will likely be reached until the leagues determine when, how and if they're returning- and that's a decision that's likely weeks or months away.
Comcast told Ars Technica that it will "pass those rebates or other adjustments along to our customers," in the event that the leagues pay the broadcasters back for canceled games.
Verizon, meanwhile, told the site that they were looking at options for how to not charge customers for services they aren't getting, but in order to do so, they "need the broadcasters, RSNs, and the leagues to cooperate."
While the games aren't going on, ESPN and the regional sports channels continue to broadcast programming, including vintage games, analysis segments, and coverage of such non-game news as NFL free agency and the upcoming NFL Draft.
The NBA suspended its season on March 12, following the news that a player, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Every other major sports league in the U.S. and Europe followed suit not long after.
Following a month of no new sports, ESPN and the NBA attempted to break the monotony beginning on Sunday, with a televised tournament in which current and retired NBA and WNBA players competed, remotely, in the playground basketball game H-O-R-S-E.
The competition, however, was largely panned by audiences. The sports website Awful Announcing slammed the broadcast as "tough for viewers to watch," due to blurry and low-quality video and sound, and also a general lack of creativity in how the footage was presented.
ESPN also announced plans to move up the planned airing of a ten-part documentary about Michael Jordan's championship run with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Originally scheduled for summer, "The Last Dance" will debut Sunday.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons.