With ESPN and regional sports networks accounting for 19.5 percent of their total fees, cable-TV and satellite operators are employing usage data gathered from settop boxes to resist further increases in the cost of sports programming, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Monday). The data have disclosed that, aside from the NFL and a handful of major sports events such as MLB's All-Star Game on Tuesday, the sports audience is relatively tiny. AT&T relied on such data, it indicated, to reject a new regional sports network formed by the Houston Rockets basketball team and the Houston Astros baseball team. We'd like to make the channel available to our customers, but the proposed cost is not fair to pass to all of our customers across Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas, especially based upon our subscribers' historical lack of viewership of Rockets and Astros games, the company said in a statement quoted by the Journal.
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