Daily Archives: August 25, 2008

So much for that anti-SEC bias

ESPN signs that big SEC television deal and the next thing you know, ol’ Herbie’s got this to say:

Sites “GameDay” Must Get To (I’m not quitting until we visit)
1. Georgia Enough is enough. Can we please get to Athens? We haven’t been there since 1998. That’s WAY too long.

Seriously, one thing I’ve got to give the guy credit for – if you look at his lists, there’s a fair amount of love sprinkled throughout for Georgia.  I’m not trying to be a homer here, but I’ve found it somewhat surprising that a team can go into a season as highly regarded as Georgia is this year with relatively little appreciation for some of the individuals (Moreno excepted, of course) that we expect to be be a key part of the success.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

Preemptive strike

Per Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal (h/t Mr. Westerdawg), ESPN is paying the SEC the sum of $2.25 billion over the next fifteen years for all of the remaining TV broadcast rights the conference didn’t sell to CBS.

Needless to say, that’s an amazing amount of money.

… Combined with the 15-year, $55 million a year that the SEC will receive from CBS for the over-the-air package of games (SportsBusiness Journal, Aug. 18-24), the conference will bring in an average of $205 million annually in media rights beginning in 2009-10 and running through fiscal 2025.

That’s nearly three times what the SEC had been receiving in TV revenue as part of its current deal, which runs out next spring. That amounted to around $70 million per year.

The new deals average out to approximately $17 million per school.  Even after the conference takes its own cut, it’s expected that the deal could wind up distributing $15 million to each school.  And that’s before any other revenues are shared, like bowl revenues (remember that the most recent annual distribution to the conference members was $127 million total).

So, yeah, that’s a helluva lot of money.  What’s in it for ESPN to lay out that kind of bread?  Basically, it cuts off rivals and potential rivals at the knees.

… The deal effectively ends any conversation of a conference network, and it knocks Raycom Sports (formerly Lincoln Financial and Jefferson Pilot) out of the SEC’s distribution business for the first time since 1986, when JP Sports began distributing SEC basketball.

It’s eat or be eaten time.

Speaking of which, I do have one little question about these deals.  Given their length and the financial outlay, how concerned do you think CBS and ESPN are now about an extended D-1 football playoff format devaluing the significance of regular season SEC games?

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UPDATE: As usual, Michael Elkon adds some perceptive thoughts, including this one:

These are massive TV deals for regular season telecasts. You think the revenue would be the same with a 16-team playoff? By resisting the urge to turn the sport into just another sport, college football (or at least the conference that represents college football in its highest [or most drunken] form) has cashed in.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Fan friendly

Tony Barnhart does a little roundtable Q & A session with the ADs at Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia State that you might want to read.

Particularly interesting is Tech’s Dan Radakovich’s concern over the average fan eventually being priced out of the college game.

What you may see in the future is fans joining together to form LLCs [limited liability corporations] in order to buy tickets collectively. They realize there is no way individually they can climb that ladder. So they pool their resources and share the tickets. It happens in the NFL now because the NFL ticket is incredibly expensive.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about that.  And you wonder why the Tech fanbase is so passionate about its football program these days…

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Filed under It's Just Bidness

Monday morning you sure look fine…

To get you started on the week, check this stuff out:

  • It’s the Monday before the season starts, and Auburn still hasn’t named a starting quarterback.  But Tony Franklin (you’ve heard he’s a genius, right?) isn’t worried.
  • Meanwhile in Tuscaloosa, Nick Saban plans on as many as ten of his true freshmen – that’s about ten percent of his original incoming class, it seems like (that’s a joke, Tide fans) – playing “significant roles” in the season opener against Clemmins.
  • Remember Willie “Sign and Dine” Williams?  He’s now at Glenville State trying to make a go of it.  It sounds like he’s discovered that, like the crowds and the facilities, the food is a step down in Division 1-AA:  “If you would have told me two or three years earlier, ‘Willie, you’re going to be eating deer,’ I probably would have looked at you like, nah, never, ever.   It really wasn’t that bad. I’m not saying I’m going to get in there and cook some deer meat now, but I’ll eat it again.”
  • So a few kids, including the starting tailback, violate South Carolina’s class attendance policy.  Steve Spurrier doesn’t want to make a federal case out of it.  “It’s a middle-of-the-year game,” Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said Saturday. “They’re all missing that same game.” Translation: they’ll sit against UAB or Swofford.  Tough love, baby.
  • It really is the end of an era up in Ann Arbor, for better or worse.  Brian Cook does a fine job of capturing the bittersweet with this eulogy of the Lloyd Carr times.

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Filed under College Football, Crime and Punishment, SEC Football, The Blogosphere, The Evil Genius, Tony Franklin - Misunderstood Genius

“Prices are going up.”

The cost of non-conference opponents keeps rising exponentially, and the Des Moines Register hosts a pity party for the poor old athletic directors at the big schools that are being stuck with the tab.

… The big schools are helpless under current rules that include 12-game seasons.

“It’s like coaches’ salaries,” Smith said. “There’s not a whole lot you can do about what we’re paying for nonconference games; there’s anti-trust laws.

“We’ve talked about it among athletic directors. It’s not a good direction, but there’s nothing that we can do about it. It’s the cost of doing business these days.”

Helpless?  Puh-leeze.  And those pesky anti-trust laws – foiled again!

This is nothing but the consequences of simple supply and demand.  The schools added a twelfth game and without conference schedule expansion there’s a limited crop of schools to solicit opponents from.  The result is that Northeastern Cupcake State can charge more for its “services”.  In some cases, lots more:

“We won’t talk to anybody in the future unless it’s for $1 million or over to go out of the state,” Florida International athletic director Pete Garcia said.

But here’s the best part.  The big boys are adding schools to the schedule whose main purpose in life for the most part is to provide a good shot at a win (Appy State aside), not to generate fanbase enthusiasm.  But if the payouts are going to cost more, then what?  You guessed it.

“The higher guarantees are simply part of running an athletics department, no different than higher travel costs, tuition increases and facilities improvement,” Pollard said. “Considering over 50 percent of most athletics department’s revenues are ticket sales and donations, it would be reasonable to assume (higher payouts) would contribute to higher ticket prices.”

Reasonable. Talk about adding insult to injury.  And it’s not like the big schools aren’t making good money even after paying out these sums.

… Iowa nets around $1.3 million, after nonconference payouts, for nonconference home games in a stadium school officials hope is sold out for the 31st consecutive time Saturday against Maine.

Iowa State anticipates $1 million profit for each of its two nonconference home games, the first on Thursday.”The big payouts, they’re not worth it, but unless I’m going to secede from the NCAA, which I’m not going to do, I have to operate in the marketplace,” Iowa’s Barta said.

Ohio State’s average profit per home game is between $4 million and $4.5 million in 102,000-seat Ohio Stadium.

Nebraska sees an average profit of $3 million each time the Cornhuskers play in 82,000-seat Memorial Stadium.

In other words, even if the dates aren’t as cheap, they can still afford ‘em.  They just don’t want to.

I still think at some point in time this plays out with expanded conference scheduling as a cost control device.

The Register also compiled a payout database comprised of 82 percent of the schools playing D-1 ball, if you’re interested.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness