Barnhart is blogging this morning that the little birdies are telling him that CBS may not be the only network to strike a 15-year deal with the SEC.
I’m hearing that ESPN is thinking seriously about also signing a 15-year deal with the SEC as well. But this deal may have an interesting twist. Under this deal ESPN would purchase all of the remaining television rights that CBS does not own.
Why would ESPN do this? Simple. If ESPN owned the remaining rights, it could put several SEC games on its various platforms (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360) and then, whatever rights it had left and did not want, it could sell back to a group like Raycom or even Comcast. Distribution, however, could be an issue because a lot of cable systems do not carry ESPNU or 360 on their basic package. And those distribution issues could ultimately complicate the deal. Some of those distribution issues could be addressed by video streaming on the Internet, which is going to be a big part of these future TV deals.
Now to do all this ESPN would have to pony up some pretty big bucks over a long period of time. But the network has shown it is willing to pay handsomely for college football.
The money – which is beginning to look like it might settle north of $100 million per year – is just short of mindboggling. Keep in mind that the conference members split a total pot of $127 million this year.