Vertical Sports Networks Storming the $7.3 Billion Sports TV Advertising

Vertical sports networks with national ambitions are suddenly  storming the high ground in the $7.4 billion sports national TV advertising business, according to Kagan Research. 

Kagan estimates existing national sports TV channels generated $3 billion in 2005 cash flow. These aim for national circulation, unlike the roughly three dozen regional sports TV networks (RSNs) scattered across the U.S.

For example, the Tennis Channel, which in August grabbed TV rights to the French Open in a nine-year deal, snatching the Grand Slam event from ESPN2. In January, the NFL Network took eight Thursday-Saturday night regular-season games (and 52 pre-season games), as the pro football league decided to invest in its own eponymous startup basic cable channel. Elsewhere, Fox Soccer Channel (originally launched as generalist Fox Sports World) is a budding success. While losing the French Open, ESPN2—launched back in 1993—is still formidable with carriage in 93 million multichannel households forecast for year-end, according to Kagan Research. 

Kagan Research forecasts that the Tennis Channel, which launched in May 2003, will be carried in 12.1 million multichannel households by year-end. The Tennis Channel is ranked 15th of 19 basic cable sports networks with national coverage based on gross advertising sales forecast for 2006, according to JupiterKagan. ESPN still leads the pack by a wide margin with 2005 gross ad revenues of $966.5 million, followed by ESPN 2($192.6M), Fox Sports Network ($123.5M), Golf Channel ($101.5M) and Speed Channle ($84.8M) for the top 5 round up.

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