As faculty adviser to Southwestern’s International Law Society, Professor Robert E. Lutz (right and below) has encouraged a fun discussion for students, faculty and practicing attorneys called Stammtisch, which is German for “main table” and connotes an informal, friendly group meeting held regularly. At the Sept. 17 Stammtisch, Professor Warren S. Grimes (left) of the law school sparked an invigorating discussion on his work concerning the cost of FIFA’s World Cup viewership rights internationally.
In the 2014 World Cup, the United States television networks, specifically, ABC/ESPN and Univision, paid roughly $212.5 million for broadcast rights. This compares to an estimated $205 million to $246 million paid by the German networks and $150 million paid by the French networks. It is estimated that for the next two World Cups, U.S. networks will pay an average of more than $500 million for broadcasting rights. The U.S. will be paying 2.3 times the former amount and likely will be the highest paying nation for broadcasting rights, by a wide margin. These high payments by the U.S. are not unique to soccer, as, for the last few Olympics, a U.S. network (NBC) has paid on average twice as much per resident as Canadian broadcasters.
During the Stammtisch, the group discussed why the process leads to overpayment by U.S. networks, and how that cost is passed on to TV viewers in the form of cable fees and advertising. One likely reason for the high cost is American cable bundles provided by TV programmers, which force U.S. consumers to pay the cost of many channels they may not wish to watch. For those interested, Grimes has published in the Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law, The Distribution of Pay Television in the United States: Let an Unshackled Marketplace Decide, 5 J. International Media & Entertainment Law 1 (2014). He also has a forthcoming piece with particular reference to the World Cup in the Southwestern Journal of International Law. And if you are interested in joining ILS, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.