Tag:ESPN
Posted on: April 13, 2011 2:11 pm
 

FoxSports to pay $90M per year for Big 12 rights

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

You might think that with the Big 12 having lost a major media draw in Nebraska, lost its football championship game as part of its shrinkage to 10 teams, and possibly seeing some broadcasts of its biggest attraction siphoned off to Texas's (competitor-owned) Longhorn Network, now wouldn't be the time for the league to be striking it rich on the television contract front.

You would think wrong. Per the Sports Business Daily, the league is ready to announce an annual increase in its cable broadcast rights fees of approximately $70 million to $90 million, a 350 percent raise over the current $20 million. The new buyer? Same as the old buyer, Fox Sports.

But Fox is getting something for its money, at least:
The deal would have FSN double the number of football games it is allowed to carry, from 20 to more than 40. Fox also is keeping all digital and mobile rights to those games, and it would retain cable exclusivity for all Big 12 contests. That means that ESPN will be able to show Big 12 games only if it buys them in syndication from Fox. It also gives Fox flexibility to carry games on its other cable channels.
It doesn't appear that the league's occasional ABC appearances will be affected. But given ESPN's now closer ties to the SEC and other leagues, it's not out of the question for new college football outlet FX to air more Big 12 games than ESPN.

That might not do as much for the league's exposure, but that may not be nearly as much a concern considering what Fox's offer will do for the league's bottom line. (And, of course, it's only speculation and the furthest thing from a certainty; until the contract is made public and the details on its week-to-week logistics made plain, how the league will continue to work with ESPN will remain a mystery.)

Commissioner Dan Beebe was roundly criticized during last year's realignment for claiming he'd be able to net the wounded conference the kind of TV money that would keep the league's heavy hitters safely in the fold, and -- more to the point -- the league solvent. Thanks to Fox's ever-increasing desire to become a major player in the world of college football, though, it appears it's Beebe having the last laugh.
Posted on: April 11, 2011 1:41 pm
 

The SEC gets richer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Considering that the SEC is already a BCS conference, and is located throughout an area of the country that is absolutely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs about college football, it's not exactly surprising to find out that the conference brings in quite a bit of revenue through football. You take a look at the packed houses in The Swamp, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tiger Stadium or any of the other college football cathedrals in the conference on a Saturday in the fall, and you can see that business is booming.

And now the rich have gotten even richer. Kyle Veazey of the Clarion-Ledger took a look at the SEC's finances for the 2009-10 year, the first year of the SEC's new television contract with ESPN and CBS, and found out that the conference more than doubled its television revenue.

In the period between Sept. 1, 2009 and Aug. 30, 2010, the SEC reported $153.3 million in revenue from television and satellite radio — up 155 percent from the $60.1 million it reported in the same category in 2008-09. The league also saw a slight gain in revenue from postseason events, reporting $80.9 million in revenue in 2009-10, up from $78.8 million in 2008-09. Those two categories make up the vast majority of the league’s revenue.

The 12 conference members received an average of $18.28 million from the conference in 2009-10. That’s an increase of $5.25 million over the 2008-09 average of $13.03 million.

Man, I should have been a football conference.

What's somewhat humorous is the fact that the only person involved in the SEC who took a paycut during that time span was commissioner Mike Slive, though he's not hurting. Slive took home $1,008,032 during the 2009-10 school year, with $940,000 of that being base pay. That's a cut from the $2.1 million Slive earned in 2008-09, but the only reason for that is because Slive received a $1 million bonus for negotiating the conferences new television deal that year.

 

Posted on: April 6, 2011 11:43 am
 

Pac-12 Network "a done deal"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When last we heard from the San-Jose Mercury-News's Jon Wilner on the state of the Pac-12's new television agreements, a "Pac-12 Network" was something the newly-expanded league definitely wanted (for Olympic sports coverage as much as the heightened football profile) but hadn't fully committed to.

According to Wilner today, though, that status has changed:
I’ve also been told by a source familiar with the league’s business model that a Pac-12 Network is more than a negotiating ploy on Scott’s part (which is what some analysts and college sports officials believe).

The network is a done deal and will be launched in Aug. ‘12, in conjunction with the league’s broadcast partner.

The emphasis here is Wilner's; clearly, it's information he's willing to stand behind.

But as he points out, starting up such a network is one thing. Turning it into the money machine the Big Ten Network has become is another. A protracted subscriber-fee battle between the league and Time Warner Cable, the dominant cable provider in California, could become an even more bitter version of the infamous standoff between the Big Ten and Comcast in 2008.

If that's the biggest headline from Wilner's story, there's several more juicy details included, all of which are good news for Pac-12 fans and its member schools:
  • Thanks to the huge sums paid out to the Big 12 (by Fox Sports) and Texas (by ESPN for the forthcoming Longhorn Network), the estimates for the Pac-12's new deal have been ratcheted upwards. Commissioner Larry Scott will reportedly be asking for "a more lucrative contract than the $205 million annual deal the SEC signed with CBS and ESPN three years ago." A deal with dollar figures anywhere near that ballpark would increase each school's annual television cut by millions.
  • Though ESPN and Turner Broadcasting could bid for the league rights, the finalists are expected to be Fox Sports and Comcast. The league has allowed Fox's exclusive negotiating window to expire, presumably in order to see what Comcast (or a third party) would be willing to pony up. L.A.-based Fox may still the favorite, though, with their recent loss of Laker rights to Time Warner fueling the need to provide USC and UCLA games to the Los Angeles market.
  • Once the national broadcast "platform" is in place, the league is expected to schedule weekly Thursday or Friday night football games.
Though little of this is set in stone, one thing is clear: the days of Pac-12 football (and basketball) being the hardest power-conference action to find on the dial will be over soon.
Posted on: February 28, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Midweek MACtion will wait until November

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Once upon a time, in those halcyon days of, say, 2003, the MAC was known for two things: grooming future NFL quarterbacks like Byron Leftwich and Ben Roethlisberger, and playing league games whenever ESPN asked them to, often on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday nights.

Now that it's the year 2011, things have changed. Oh, the MAC is still playing weeknight games ... but as they've done the past couple of seaons, thanks to travel and academic concerns they aren't playing them at the drop a proverbial hat any longer. Per the official 2011 MAC schedule released today , no MAC team will play a midweek game between Week 1 (when four teams kick off their seasons on Thursday night) and Week 10, when Northern Illinois visits Toledo for a Tuesday night ESPN2 broadcast.

That matchup kicks off the MAC's version of Shark Week, as ESPN airs seven MAC games over the next seven weeknights. The backloaded midweek slate helps the MAC accomplish two goals: keeping the bulk of their schedule on Saturdays where they naturally belong, while still ensuring that the biggest games of their season are aired to a national audience.

But is it worth it? Ceding the midweek slots to conferences like the WAC (remember Boise State playing Louisiana Tech on a Tuesday this past season?) may have resulted in smoother scheduling and easier logistics, but it's also resulting in less exposure; the 2011 schedule features 15 guaranteed ESPN dates, where the 2010 version offered 19.

Of course, the MAC already tried the maximum exposure route and decided it wasn't worth the trade-off. As the league's contiued adherence to the "no midweek games until they matter" plan shows, even ESPN's power has its limits.

Bonus link of interest: Did you see where Kirby Hocutt bolted from the Miami (Fla.) athletic director's chair for the same position at Texas Tech last week? Well, before going to Miami Hocutt was also AD at Ohio; here's an open letter to fans from his Bobcat days which discusses, in part, the MAC's midweek scheduling dilemma.

Posted on: February 5, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Pac-12 won't leave Colorado empty-handed in '11

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Colorado finds itself in one of the bigger financial pickles in major college football, needing to pay: a buyout to the Big 12 after having secured their jump to the Pac-12; any and all buyouts for dismissed head coach Dan Hawkins and his former assistant coaches; the salaries of new coach Jon Embree and his assistants under their new contracts and potential signing bonuses. Not only that, but the Buffs will have to do all of that on a budget that was already described as one of BCS football's most stretched.

But the Buffs got some good news this week, as Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said that though the Buffs would have to wait a year to get a full share of the conference's television payouts, their first season in their new league home will net the program something (emphasis added):

Scott said the conference and Colorado have reached an agreement under which CU will receive a pro-rated share of any new revenue the league generates outside of its current television agreement, which will expire at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

The conference already has secured new revenue that meets that standard in a $25 million television agreement with Fox for the rights to the first Pac-12 football championship games and other games played throughout the year by Colorado and Utah that don`t fall under the league`s current television deal.

"They will get several million dollars next year from us because we were highly successful in negotiating our championship deal, even though we didn`t guarantee them any money next year," Scott said. "But it won't come anywhere close to what they're forgoing and what the (Big 12) buyout will be."

Scott added -- and clearly, the Buffs brass would agree -- that the Buffs will eventually profit by making the move, since the money shelled out by ESPN for the new Texas network suggests that the market will pay handsomely for the new Pac-12 contract (which will go into effect for the 2012-2013 season once signed). And thanks to the initial agreement with Fox, Colorado can even pick up "several million dollars" while they wait.

Until then, the Buffs are still going to be digging out of a financial hole, one that's going to make an already-difficult transition to the Pac-12 under a new coaching staff even more difficult. But they can take heart that even if their new conference brethren "didn't guarantee them" a cent for 2011, they appear nonetheless committed to helping the Buffs out of that hole as best they can.
Posted on: January 31, 2011 5:21 pm
 

Urban Meyer joins ESPN full time

Posted by Tom Fornelli

When you leave your job to spend more time with your family there comes a time when you realize "I need to get away from my family." The time it takes for a person to realize this varies. Some take weeks, some take years. Urban Meyer appears to be one of the former, as a report in the Palm Beach Post says that Meyer has joined ESPN as an analyst.
It is unknown what role Meyer will hold at ESPN or how often he will appear, but those details likely will be available once the hire is officially announced. It will be publicized later today.
Meyer has appeared on ESPN twice recently, as an in-studio guest in December and as part of the network’s national championship game coverage this month.
Meyer "auditioned" with the network during bowl season and I thought he did a pretty good job. Of course, when all we have to compare Meyer to at ESPN is Lou Holtz and Mark May, a talking parrot would seem refreshing. In fact, it'd be downright awesome. Alas, we're probably years away from parrots hosting studio shows, so Meyer will have to do for now.

Meyer will also be retaining his position in the Florida athletic department, which means that the man who left his former job to spend more time with his family now has two jobs. The real question is how long will Meyer hold on to those two jobs. Considering his age, and his obvious dedication to the game of football, you have to wonder how long he'll be sitting behind a desk before taking another coaching job. You know he'll be sought after, but I suppose it's possible being an analyst will suit him just fine, and he may never leave. 
Posted on: January 26, 2011 6:59 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 7:02 pm
 

No change in Mountain West TV contracts

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's been plenty of news to come out of the Mountain West's presidents meeting this week, most of which are covered here by the Idaho Statesman's Chad Crippe following a discussion with commissioner Craig Thompson. To recap: the TCU-Boise State game will be moved to Boise; the conference won't invite Utah State and San Jose State to join, despite reports to the contrary, and looks set at 10 teams for the foreseeable future; and various scheduling details have been ironed out, like placing the TCU-Boise marquee matchup at season's end and giving each team two rivalry games that won't rotate off the eight-game schedule.

But one detail from Crippe's report shouldn't escape notice, even among the expansion madness and TCU-Boise brouhaha:
[Thompson] did not collect bids from the TV partners based on an expanded league. “Because I didn’t know specifically who we’d be talking about,” he said ... The Mountain West is talking only with its current TV partners. Colorado State president Tony Frank told The Coloradoan that he doesn’t expect the TV money to change significantly from the current $12 million per year.
So no new television partners, and no major changes to a contract that runs through the 2015-2016 season? That's not what fans of the Mountain West want to hear, not when that contract offers the entire conference some $3 million less than ESPN is paying Texas by itself for the forthcoming "Longhorn Network."

The lack of television exposure (despite MWC games airing weekly on the excellent CBS College Sports, now in 94 million homes !) and, more importantly, television money is explicitly what's driven league mainstay BYU into football independence, and severely hampered the conference's efforts to keep other departed members Utah and TCU. While the MWC doesn't appear to be in any further danger of having its current 10 teams poached by larger leagues, that San Diego State and the Big 12 have had some measure of contact shows that that danger isn't entirely passed.

And besides: every year the MWC accepts relative peanuts while the Texases of the world get fatter and fatter on their TV deals, the gap between the conference and the BCS gate they want so desperately to crash will only widen. In short, a new, richer TV contract will be a key part of the MWC's long-term success ... and if it's not on the immediate horizon, it's fair to question how high the ceiling on that success can rise.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 12:11 pm
 

Texas A&M has "many questions" about UT network

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The recently-unveiled "Longhorn Network" hasn't even started broadcasting yet, but it's already provided Texas with plenty of benefits: a contract with ESPN worth millions upon millions of dollars, a high level of "buzz" regarding what the finished product will look like (and what kind of benefits it might offer down the road), and -- unsurprisingly -- an awful lot of ticked-off Texas A&M Aggies down the road in College Station.

At least, we're assuming that's how most Aggies feel about their archrivals' latest venture, considering that Aggie athletic director Bill Byrne made clear yesterday that he is -- to put it politely -- not a fan. He's asked for the NCAA to have a look-see:
"I can't speak for the NCAA, but I would imagine the governing body will look into the use of a collegiate television network airing games of prospective student-athletes," Byrne said in a statement. "I understand networks such as FSN and ESPN airing high school sports, but whether or not employees under contract with a university that may have additional contact would seem to be an issue" ...

"There are many questions regarding this new contract that will be discussed at length here at Texas A&M and within the Big 12 Conference, as well as with our television partners."
An NCAA official contacted by CBS said that without the "particulars of the specific arrangement with the network," they could not determine whether high school games airing on the Longhorn Network would violate NCAA regulations or not.

But even aside from that issue, "many questions ... that will be discussed at length" is A.D.-speak for "dude, we are seriously not pleased with this." Byrne's not the first A&M-affiliated official to express his misgivings about the Longhorns striking up their own TV deal, either; a "prominent Aggie" who spoke with the Austin-American Statesman's Kirk Bohls last week suggested that A&M could try to arrange its "own deal" with the television powers-that-be, or even rally the league's other eight non-Texas schools into an "Everybody But the Longhorns Network."

However you slice it, the natural rivalry between the two schools appears to have grown into a legitimate administrative rift, and one that's showing no signs of closing any time soon. When the Pac-12 and (according to some) SEC came calling last summer, A&M nonetheless elected to follow their in-state brethren's lead and remain in the streamlined, wobbly-looking, title game-less, 'Horn-dominated Big 12 . If the Longhorn Network proves to be as beneficial to Texas's bottom line and on-field product as Byrne and the rest of A&M are clearly worried it will be, the Aggies may decide their best interests dictate a different course of action next time around.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com