Data: S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The absence of live sports is reigniting the years-long debate over the real value of live sports in a Pay-TV package.

Why it matters: New York State Attorney General Letitia has argued that consumers shouldn't have to pay the same amount for cable and satellite packages, which include expensive sports networks, when those sports networks aren't carrying any live sports.

Yes, but: Contractually, it's unlikely cable and satellite providers will budge.

  • In an interview with Axios' Jim VandeHei last week, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg wouldn't say that he would provide any rebates to customers, and instead insisted that his company is committed to not charging late fees until June.
  • As Sports Business Journal's John Ourand reports, "legally speaking, distributors can’t start seeking rebates (from TV networks) until September 2021 at the earliest," due to contractual obligations. The sports networks, at least ESPN, have at least 12 months to air a certain number of live events, per Ourand.

The big picture: Analysts and reports have begun to call out the tension between the networks and carriers ahead of earnings season.

  • Last week, the New York Post reported that Dish, which is notoriously known for being a shrewd negotiator with networks over distribution fees, is looking to get out of the $80-$100 million distribution fee it owes ESPN for April broadcasting rights.

By the numbers: The average monthly cable or satellite package in the U.S. is roughly $100. Sports accounts for roughly 20% of that package fee.

  • The top 10 most expensive cable affiliate fees in the U.S. are all sports channels — mostly regional sports networks — with ESPN being by far the most expensive at roughly $8 monthly.

Go deeper: Coronavirus' potential second wave looms large over the sports world

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Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Aug 12, 2020 - Sports

Big Ten, Pac-12 postpone football as ACC, SEC, Big 12 don't

Photo: James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The slim prospects of a fall college football season have evaporated in a matter of days — but don't tell that to the ACC, SEC and Big 12, which are still trying to make their seasons happen.

The state of play: The Big Ten and Pac-12 postponed all fall sports to the spring on Tuesday. No football, cross country, volleyball, soccer or field hockey.

Aug 12, 2020 - Podcasts

The Biden-Harris chemistry test

Last night, Joe Biden made the most important decision in his campaign with a historic pick of Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential candidate.

But it’s the next 48 hours that are truly crucial for the campaign to prove they have the chemistry to win the presidency.

  • Plus, how the coronavirus has pulled the plug on college sports.
  • And, where to look for the best meteor shower of the year.

Guests: Axios' Hans Nichols and Jeff Tracy

Credits: "Axios Today" is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Carol Alderman, Cara Shillenn, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Naomi Shavin and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at

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53 mins ago - World

China embraces hostage diplomacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government is threatening to detain foreign citizens unless their home governments do what Beijing demands. In some cases, China has already made good on those threats.

The big picture: This marks a potential evolution of China's "wolf warrior diplomacy" to outright rogue state behavior, putting it in the company of countries like North Korea and Iran, which have also engaged in hostage diplomacy.