Current Events Monday: Who is Paying for Our Entertainment and Why?
The data is quite clear: Americans prefer watching sports on television than pretty much anything else. A recent study from Bloomberg News reports that entertainment corporations have spent more than $210 billion on rights to broadcast sporting events from 1980 to date. Sixty-five percent of the spending has gone towards broadcasting NFL games.
You can read more about the Bloomberg News research by clicking on the link here:
So, who is paying for all of this? Four entertainment industry “giants” are responsible for most of the spending on sports broadcasting rights: Walt Disney Co. (who owns ESPN and ABC), Comcast Corp. (who owns NBC), Fox Corp., and Paramount Global (who owns CBS). In fact, these industry leaders will pay around $15 billion for sporting broadcast rights just for 2023 alone. Let’s put it this way: It literally takes billions and billions of dollars to get us channel surfing on our couches through TV sporting events. And that doesn’t even begin to get at the advertising costs!
But why spend so much? Put simply, the TV and Cable services don’t want us streaming sports content on our phones/computers. They have a need to stay relevant. Bloomberg reports that Cable and Satellite TV subscriptions have nearly been cut in half since 2016. Sports are keeping cable and over-the-air tv companies afloat in our progressing digital age. And don’t look now, but Apple TV and Amazon are hot on their tracks. These streaming services have now built enough strength that they are pouring money into sporting event rights. Could it be that, in another few years, most TV services will be basically extinct? If these big companies lose sporting rights, then our tv viewing may just be reduced to political news shows, reruns, game shows, and even tons more commercials about medications and legal services. Yikes.
All this gets us to a good question: How is this subject relevant to us? It is highly unlikely that the most pressing issue in your life today revolves around the TV channel on which to watch your favorite team. The abiding relevance of this topic has to do with the arguably obscene amounts of money spent for sports entertainment. Is there a point at which we entertain ourselves to death? The Bible answers, “Yes.”
In Luke 12, we read one of Jesus’ classic stories about storing up treasures in heaven rather than on earth—where moths, rust, and TV services destroy. Jesus’ story centers on a wealthy man who made a fine living out successful farming. He even had to build bigger and more luxurious barns in order to contain his bumper crop. He then decided to eat, drink, and be merry. To his surprise, however, God called the farmer to account, and the farmer had no inner resources to save him.
The intent of Jesus’ story is sobering. Material riches in this life cannot compare to having a spiritually rich soul in the Lord. No amount of money can buy salvation. In other words, without receiving the free gift of God’s rich grace and forgiveness, it really doesn’t matter how much we spend on entertainment, or how much big companies spend on us. Money can’t buy happiness. There may be a better way to spend $15 billion next year than on football.