chapter  2
27 Pages

Conglomeration of Sports Television Networks and Services

ByWilliam M. Kunz

Chapter 2, “Conglomeration of Sports Television Networks and Services,” outlines the historical evolution of sports television in the United States, with a focus on the shift from differentiation to concentration, and the concentration of ownership in five massive media conglomerates: AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp., Fox Corp., ViacomCBS Inc., and Walt Disney Co. There was a time when there were three national networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, and each was known for specific properties and signature voices. That began to change with the rise of cable television in the 1970s and 1980s, but it was also influenced by the integration of the three major broadcast networks in larger conglomerates and the arrival of FOX in 1986. There is no single model for the process of conglomeration within this group, with some combinations resulting from mergers and acquisition of large corporations, such as the combinations of Disney and Capital Cities/ABC or Comcast and NBCUniversal, while others evolved over a longer period of time or resulted from smaller acquisitions. There are also cases where the broadcast network sports division assumed control of a cable service, such as NBC and NBC Sports Network, and others where the opposite was true, such as ESPN and ABC Sports.