After Sony Shares Plans, ESPN Shopping Internet TV Deals

The Internet TV talks are heating up. The latest news comes from the Walt Disney Co. According to Bloomberg, Disney's ESPN sports network is in talks to offer its programming on Internet TV services like the one Sony announced last week.

Bloomberg quoted ESPN president John Skipper saying the Internet TV provider would have to pay as much as or more than cable and satellite services to get its content. He said Internet TV services would have to buy "the whole suite of products. We're not going to offer one-offs."

By the whole suite of products, Skipper means ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News and the various mobile apps the broadcaster has developed. ESPN has plenty to bargain with as media research firm SNL Kagan reports it is the most valuable channel -- driving the highest subscriber fees -- on basic cable. ESPN 3D is the second highest at $2.71 per subscriber.

Exclusive Deals?

Specifically, SNL Kagan reveals basic cable customers paid an average of $5.06 a month for ESPN in 2012 -- and the broadcaster has nearly 100 million subscribers. That has caused Fox and others to jump in with rival services. By way of comparison, the NFL Network is in sixth place at $.84 per subscriber while ESPN2 is eighth at $.82.

We caught up with Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, to get his thoughts on the rush toward Internet TV. He told us Sony may be the first to do a deal with Viacom, but few of these providers are interested in doing an exclusive deal, at least for long.

"None of them, for example, has an exclusive deal with traditional pay TV providers, at least by choice," he said. "Assuming the deal has been done, though, it would represent progress by at least one other over-the-top provider after Intel to...

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