‘We can do that for you.”

Make sure you read Barnhart’s post on the SEC TV deals with CBS and – especially – ESPN.  There are a ton of good points and questions he brings out.

For example, on recruiting:

The games on ESPN and ESPN2 will have a unique national branding as the “SEC on ESPN.” That may not sound like a big deal to you but it will be a major recruiting pitch in the future. No other conference has that kind of branding on ESPN: Not the Big Ten, not the Big 12, and not the ACC. The SEC will be able to walk into a living room and say that every conference game will either be on CBS or one of the ESPN platforms. And if the SEC is recruiting a player outside the nine-state area, the coaches can tell parents that the games will be on the dish as part of ESPN’s Game Plan. This is a huge part of this deal. The NFL has the best television package on the planet but what the SEC has with CBS and ESPN is not far off.

It’s good stuff, good enough that I keep wondering why the AJ-C is letting Barnhart go.

And I’m gonna beat a certain dead horse one more time with this observation:

… Other conferences should take heed of this deal because it shows the value of college football in a changing marketplace. While just about all other sports, including college basketball, are hurting when it comes to ratings, college football is more popular than it has ever been and is increasing in value.

Other than the NFL, the TV execs are discovering that college football gives them the most bang for their buck. Collectively CBS and ESPN are investing $3 billion into the SEC over the next 15 years. Those guys don’t throw around that kind of money on an asset that is going to decrease in value over time.

Hmm… what is it about college football that makes it so attractive in the marketplace?  It couldn’t be that old “every week counts” regular season format, could it?  All I can tell you is that, judging from Barnhart’s information, ESPN wanted this deal badly.  In the end, the numbers speak for themselves.

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26 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football

26 responses to “‘We can do that for you.”

  1. It could be that it’s just the popularity of football. “The NFL has the best television package on the planet,” playoff and all.

    Even high school games are in demand here.

  2. Ally

    Someone raised an interesting question in the comments of PWD’s blog. With the wwl’s affinity for Thursday night games, I have to wonder how often they will require each team to play a Thursday night game.

    As a season ticket holder that just paid out the ying-yang for first time tickets, I’m not too keen on paying a ton just to be told that one of my home games will be on a Thursday night.

    Again, this deal makes me nervous.

  3. sUGArdaddy

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the Thursday games. The university wants no part of it, and if you watch closely, the big six in the SEC don’t play home games on Thursdays. You might see an Auburn @ South Carolina or LSU @ Miss. St, but you don’t see Thursday games in Athens, the Plains, Gainesville, Baton Rouge, T-town, and Knox County.

    UGA has been reluctant to have ANY games (home or away) on Thursdays. It will be interesting to see if we play a Thursday nighter down the road in Oxford or Starkville. I think the deal says 2-3 Thursday games a year, which is about what we have now w/ a South Carolina, UK, and Miss. St. game usually once a year.

    Bottom line: the SEC powerhouses don’t need to play on Thursdays to get on TV…and they ain’t about to start now.

  4. thinkingbulldog

    I really think it’s worth considering how these TV deals with ungodly payouts will affect the product. We already see clock rules changed to shorten the games without reducing the commercial time. I find the NFL entertaining but not worth the trouble to watch, e.g., with two commercial breaks before and after almost every kickoff, you’ll usually have about 10 minutes to kill between a field goal and the other team’s offense taking the field. Deals of this size will only tighten the networks’ grip on how the game is played, which I believe will eventually lead to NFL clock rules in college football… it’s only a matter of when in my view.

    PS-thanks for linking to my blog. Check out my new custom image header–Herschel vs. Tech in 1980.

  5. Hobnail_Boot

    It’s pretty simple, really.

    The reason the 3 fastest growing sports in America are NFL, CFB, and NASCAR is because they are once-a-week, on-the-weekend events. It’s easy to follow your favorite football team or driver if you only have to tune in for 3 or 4 hours a week.

    I love the Braves, but even when they’re good I’m lucky if can catch more than about 18 collective innings a week on TV. Same goes for followers of any other major sports.

  6. Ally,

    There are only 2 Thursday night games per year for the entire conference.

    In other words, just as many as there are now.

    UGA can’t logistically host a Thursday Night game while school is in session. There’s no way to manage the traffic, parking, safety, security or tailgate issues during a school day because we have an on campus 93,000 seat venue dead center of our campus.

  7. I worry less about Thurs and more about the further consolidation of power at ESPN. This deal further cripples the infant CBS College Sports (CSTV) network.

    It also really limits future growth opportunities in the Southeast for Fox, Fox Sports Net, Fox Sports South, Sunshine Network, CSS, etc.

    As long as Comcast plays ball on the “basic” cable options, the consumer won’t feel much of this. The problem will become managing ESPN’s broader agenda and uncontested power base.

    PWD

  8. Ally

    PWD – thanks for the info on Thursday games. I still worry about what may or may not happen down the road. ESPN et. al has already proven in many other areas that they control the pace and scheduling of games. I just worry about having to bend to their whim in the years to come.

    And to your second comment: Exactly! The control they now have and the unknowns of their agenda concern me greatly. I get this sinking feeling we just made a deal with the devil.

  9. You do not want Fox Sports ever touching anything to do with your college football programming. Speaking as someone who follows the Pac-10, their agreement with FOX Sports is an unmitigated disaster. Their ‘national’ games are held by the regional networks. Meaning, even the really good Pac-10 games are treated no better than what the worst SEC game in this new package would be treated as (ESPN Regional Television).

    The FOX Regional Networks are a total mess, and provide as little exposure for games outside of their region as humanly possible. As a SoCal resident, I can’t even get FOX Sports Northwest to watch Oregon or Oregon State games on Saturdays.

  10. kckd

    Exactly Groo, that importance of every game, every week has got the NFL hurting. I wonder how much money the Senator thinks they could get if they let people vote on the two participants of the Super Bowl.

  11. Apples and oranges, sport.

    I’m not arguing that the overall money would or would not be lessened with an extended D-1 football playoff. I’m just saying that it’s hard to think of any other reason why the SEC pulled down an unbelievable amount of money for a regular season football package.

    You want to throw out the NFL in support of your position, fine. How come nothing else comes close?

    And before you start waxing poetic about high school football, why don’t you tell me about the vast sums of money regular season 1-AA football commands. I mean, that’s football, too, with fans, leagues and a postseason, right?

    Finally, why are your knickers in a wad over this, anyway? I thought your position is that a small playoff won’t have any impact on the regular season.

  12. JasonB

    Wasn’t Evans on record a few years saying that UGA had no interest in Thursday night games? I think I remember reading that 1-2 years back somewhere and you may be able to find it with some good intrawebbing

  13. Tell us how much better the current system (without a small playoff) will be when we finish 10-2 and arguing that we should be ahead of an
    11-1 Ohio St for the right to play USC in the title game. If you do not mind this- then that is fantastic.
    CFB thrives in large part b/c fans are guaranteed
    3 yrs of their favorite players at least. Money is not involved (typically at least) and they play for their school of choice which the fans and alums can relate to. Do not underestimate the ease to which fans can relate to that. Every CFB fan has friends who went to competing schools and can relate to those games every year. Pro sports cannot offer this. CFB would lose a little of their regular season should some form of playoff become a reality, but those losses will not amount to much if the current system isn’t changed. There is no legitimacy currently with the BcS.
    And this ESPN deal should make everybody a little uneasy. Like what was mentioned before, just wait till there is 10 minutes before the offense comes onto the field after a score. That is one of the main reasons I cannot watch pro football currently.

  14. JDL

    Does anyone know of a bar or restaurant in downtown Athens that will be televising the game? Last time we were on PPV, I was told that the bars downtown didn’t carry PPV games, but that was four or five years ago. I still may be able to get tix, but I won’t know until gameday and I want to have a backup plan just in case.

    Any suggestions? Help is much appreciated.

  15. Tell us how much better the current system (without a small playoff) will be when we finish 10-2 and arguing that we should be ahead of an 11-1 Ohio St for the right to play USC in the title game. If you do not mind this- then that is fantastic.

    I’ll put it to you this way, that scenario bothers me a lot less than these two realities:

    — A six loss NY Giants team winning the NFL championship by beating an undefeated team in the Super Bowl to which it had already lost in the regular season.

    — Any discussion about which mediocre D-1 basketball team is fighting for that key win in the last week of the season to garner a 12th seed in a national title tournament ahead of a bunch of other mediocre teams.

    For the hundredth time, as a general principle, I don’t have a problem with a small D-1 football playoff. I do have an enormous problem with an extended playoff. And I bet going forward from this point on, ESPN and CBS do too.

  16. kckd

    So Senator

    Do you think CBS and ESPN made this deal with the assumption that there will be no playoff over the next 15 years. Puhhhhlease.

    You are jumping to some big conclusions here. SEC football is popular and IMO, would be just as popular if there were a playoff.

  17. kckd

    – A six loss NY Giants team winning the NFL championship by beating an undefeated team in the Super Bowl to which it had already lost in the regular season.

    But based on your theory, wouldn’t that mean the NFL should be less popular due to this?

    If it’s apple and oranges, it’s pretty hard to say the importance of the regular season has any bearing whatsoever on the current contract.

  18. Do you think CBS and ESPN made this deal with the assumption that there will be no playoff over the next 15 years.

    Where did I say that?

  19. Sam

    Senator, I don’t know what your definition of a “small D-1 playoff is” but I am strongly in favor of an 8 team (no larger one is needed for reasons of credibility) which would include the 6 BCS conference champs and the next two highest rated at-large teams nationally. In no way does that threaten the regular season, and no one has yet shown me how it does. The argument that it would grow is apples and oranges to me. It only grows if the member schools allows it. Not voting for this concept because of something that hasn’t yet happened, and cannot unless you permit it,, it is ridiculous. Set the rules for the playoff and play by them. If you don’t make it, tough. Every team would then control their own destiny and the arguments about strength of conference and schedule is diminished substantially. I think that can only enhance the appeal of the product. Yes, there would still be someone argue about who is number 7, or number 9……yawn. Those debates would only be heated on 2-3 campuses, and all of them could look in the mirror and say we had our chance to win the conference and not subject us to the political rankings at the end of the season.

    Under that concept, the regular season would be just as heated EVERY week as it is now, perhaps more so. Joining an exclusive clubs of just eight would inspire better play, not worse. Think about how difficult it is to finish in the Top 10. And I don’t see a six loss team winning a conference title, you would have to show me if that has ever happened in the history of CFB.

    As to ESPN’s control over length of the games, where is that? The NCAA member schools control the product, and ESPN has already inked the deal. To my knowledge there are no provisions that would give ESPN any more influence than they currently have. They signed up for the product the way it currently is, and the way it is trending. The powers that be should never reduce what the fans are paying increasingly more dollars for. They tried that two years ago and got blasted.

  20. thinkingbulldog

    Sam’s proposal is a terrible one, particularly because if the conference champs got an automatic bid to the playoffs, every BCS conference team would immediately strip any competitive nonconference games out of their schedule. If winning the conference gets you to the Big Dance automatically, strength of schedule thereby means nothing.

    And I don’t know how the argument that the playoffs would grow in size over time is “apples and oranges.” Playoff systems have grown to add more teams in every single sport with any popularity (i.e., media revenue) that has playoffs to decide the champion.

  21. Sam

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I don’t see how you got the nickname “thinking bulldog” based on that post. If winning your conference got an exemption, teams could/would ADD tougher OOC games since it would not negatively impact their ability to reach the “big dance”. In fact, in the event they missed out on their conference title, they would need impressive wins to earn one of the 2 at-large bids.

    Sorry you don’t see the logic of my statement about expansion either. As stated, no one can force the NCAA schools to expand, and there is no need to in the case of CFB. Since the regular season would continue to be an elimination playoff of sorts, you do not have the same pressure to expand that basketball, and baseball do. 30+ games are unrealistic, and the 8 team playoff would include all legit teams. In basketball and baseball you have around 200 teams eligible, but only 119 in CFB. 7% or so is a very exclusive club, but adequate in a sport where you cannot play in 1-2 day intervals. Simply put, have a rule that the maximum number of games any team can play is 15-16 and you have your ceiling at 8 teams. My point is still valid, do not argue against doing the right thing because it MIGHT lead to a bad decision later on….a bad decision that would be totally self-imposed. If organizations/businesses made decisions using that logic, nothing would ever change and humanity would be extinct by now. The arguments against a playoff are just lame in my opinion, but you feel however you choose. I have said before sex would not be very popular if we didn’t have a climax; I love CFB but it is very frustrating to not have a conclusion.

  22. kckd

    Do you think CBS and ESPN made this deal with the assumption that there will be no playoff over the next 15 years.

    Where did I say that?

    You didn’t say it. But you’re hinting that a major reason CBS is willing to shell out the money they do for SEC football and it’s popularity is that the regular season games mean so much. Why? IYO, because there is no playoff.

    I’m saying if CBS thinks that’s the reason college football is so important, then they’d have to have good reason to believe there’d be no playoff for the majority of the 15 year contract. Otherwise, they’d be paying too much for a sport that would lose it’s popularity. No???

  23. No. I agree with you that a small playoff won’t impact the value of the regular season. I do think that an extended playoff would – and for right now it seems that most of the movers and shakers in college football do, too.

    Like it or not, CBS and ESPN have made an enormous investment here, and like any rational player in the market have a stake in protecting that. I can’t see how they’d be happy with a twelve or sixteen team playoff. Especially if Fox has the broadcast rights to that…

  24. BTW, kckd, you keep saying there is no playoff. That’s not accurate. The BCS, whatever its shortcomings, is a two team playoff.

  25. NFL = POPULAR = Las Vegas Gambling (and other gambling)…. at least 35% of viewers watching NFL are making a wager on said game. College can’t be that far off… That’s why I’ll pay attention to a Temple vs Buffalo Weds. game- if I put a little juice down to make it fun to watch.

  26. thinkingbulldog

    Actually history shows that precisely the opposite of what Sam asserts will be the outcome of his system. Coaches generally, and SEC coaches in particular, speak of the difficulty of the intraconference schedule but are forced to add games against strong out-of-conference teams to improve strength of schedule numbers in the computer polls and the subjective view of their resume with human poll voters. Sam’s plan obviates this need; in fact, this system would necessitate soft out-of-conference scheduling, e.g., under that system there is no way Georgia would squeeze a trip to Arizona State in between Steve Spurrier and Alabama. Auburn traveling to Morgantown in October would never happen.

    And playoff opponents are not asserting that a small playoff MIGHT expand at some future time. They assert a small playoff WILL with absolute certainty expand, as every other playoff system has. NCAA Basketball, College World Series, NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB, 1-AA Football, all have expanded. Can anyone name a playoff system that hasn’t expanded?