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Ad Slump Thumps Regional Sports Nets

6/01/2010 1:01 AM Eastern

The growth trajectory of regional sports networks flattened a bit
in 2009, as the advertising slump
reduced overall revenue growth
by nearly four percentage points,
according to a report by SNL
Kagan.

Total revenue for the RSNs was
$4.64 billion in 2009, according
to Kagan, which began tracking
the networks earlier this year.
That represented a 6.6% increase,
down from the 10.5% increase the
networks enjoyed in 2008 and the
14% rise in 2007.

In a note, Kagan senior analyst
Derek Baine said the ad slump
and a slowdown in subscriber
growth (most of the networks
are fully distributed) were the
main culprits. That aligns with an
earlier Kagan report estimating
RSN ad revenue was down about
6% in 2009.

Still, some RSNs enjoyed big
overall increases, according to
Kagan. Fox Sports Tennessee and
Fox Sports Carolinas — which
were spun out from Fox Sports
South in late 2008 — increased
their respective revenue by
more than six times in 2009, to
$49.1 million and $109.5 million,
respectively.

Excluding those two networks,
Baine estimated 10 RSNs reported
double-digit revenue increases,
including Mid-Atlantic Sports
Network (owned by Major League
Baseball teams the Washington
Nationals and the Baltimore
Orioles), up 19.7%; Comcast
SportsNet New England, up 15.1%;
and Sun Sports, the Florida sports
net owned by Fox and home to the
National Basketball Association’s
Orlando Magic, MLB’s Florida
Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays,
the National Hockey League’s
Tampa Bay Lightning and the
Arena Football League’s Orlando
Predators and Tampa Bay Storm,
up 12.7%.

September