More strange developments in the bidding war for the Los Angeles Clippers last night. Potential bidders for the team scrambled to hand in their offers by a 5pm deadline imposed by team co-owner Shelly Sterling. Then, even as those bids were coming in, Shelly's husband Donald reversed his week-old pledge to sell.
According to Donald Sterling's lawyers the shamed billionaire's state of mind has gone from resignation to "damn the torpedoes; litigate ahead."
Now, if you're like 99% of America you were only vaguely aware of the Clippers existence 6-months ago. You might not even like the NBA. It doesn't matter because if you have cable or satellite TV there's a good chance you're paying for the NBA and other sports every month.
All these billionaires bidding for the Clippers are fighting for a glittering asset, of course. But what's funding the deal is your cable bill. Advertisers LOVE sports because it's the only thing we watch in real time anymore. In fact, 20% of our collective time watching television is spent watching sports. Disney makes almost $10 billion a year on ESPN. Sports and morning shows basically subsidize everything else on TV.
The Clippers cross-town rivals, the Lakers, collect $200 million a year from Time Warner Cable. The Lakers have the biggest payroll in the league and they still mint money.
The Clippers local TV contract expires after the 2015 - 2016 season. At that point if all goes as planned Time Warner will be partnered with Comcast and the two will own 30% of the US market. They'll be bidding for Clippers television rights with Fox who last year agreed to give the LA Dodgers more than $300 million a year for their local rights.
So why do you care about the Clippers? Because the billionaires are gleefully fighting for the right to gouge you via hiked up rates to pay for the Clippers. If you don't like basketball you should start trying to learn to love it since you're going to be paying for it anyway.