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A US national television network broadcaster that has been one of the major investors—along with CBS and NBC—in sports programming in the USA. These three network broadcasters dominated much of the USA's sport coverage into the 1970s and 1980s, aided by a regulatory framework of the Federal Communications Commission. Their rivalry also raised the value of some sports events, most notably the Olympic Games; the broadcasting rights for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984 were US$287 million, those for Atlanta in 1996 US$898.2 million, and for the 2000 Sydney Games US$1,331.5 million. The proportion of overall Olympic broadcasting rights coming from the US market was still more than half (52%) for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

From the 1980s, with the emergence of cable television, and from the mid 1990s with the emergence of the direct-to-home satellite platform (DTH), the power of the three network broadcasters has been reduced, and specialist providers such as ESPN provided what economists saw as much-needed competition. The relaxation of regulations also saw the emergence of a fourth network broadcaster, Fox, in 1994. ABC and the other network providers have remained committed to the sports profile in this more mixed market, which remains nevertheless what economists call a situation of oligopoly; for instance, the broadcasting rights of the National Football League (NFL) between 1998 and 2005 were worth over US$17 billion, jointly shared by ABC, CBS, Fox, and ESPN.

Subjects: Social sciencesSociology

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