Pay-TV operators (DISH, DTV, CHTR, CVC, TWC) will have to spend about $18.32 a month per subscriber within wo years to gain broad rights to sports content, according to estimates from SNL Kagan. That figure makes it difficult for the group to offer smaller bundles to bring back cord-cutters and lure cord-nevers.
Though the AT&T-DirecTV and Comcast-Time Warner Cable mergers could add leverage to the pay-TV side, new sports channels Fox Sport 1 and NBC Sports Network aim to achieve the must-have clout and high carriage fees earned by ESPN.
Passing on costs might not be an option: Average revenue per user at pay-TV operators has hit a tipping point with consumers, with most analysts seeing the push-back continuing.
"Something has to give," sums up media analyst Craig Moffett.