Math made “it’s so easy”.

Scott Reid of the Orange County Register hangs a big ol’ “kick me” sign on the backs of all of the idiot school presidents and conference for leaving all that TV money on the table by turning their backs on a football playoff.

… BCS officials have spent the week congratulating themselves in private over the ESPN deal that is a 56 percent jump over the BCS’ current 4-year, $320-million contract with Fox. But even if you figure in ABC’s $30-million annual fee to televise the Rose Bowl the deal is but a fraction of what CBS pays out each year to televise the NCAA basketball tournament and what some longtime college and conference administrators say an eight or 16 team post-season would command. CBS’s 11-year NCAA basketball tournament deal is worth $6.2-billion. In other words by taking a playoff tournament off the table, college football is costing itself more than $400-million a season. [Emphasis added.]

$400 million a year.  That’s a staggering amount of money.  So here’s my first question – if the presidents and conference commissioners are the greedy bastards everyone says they are, why are they leaving that kind of jack laying around?  Does Mike Slive, who just squeezed the hell out of CBS and ESPN on new SEC TV contracts, strike anyone as the type of guy who’s willing to let bygones be bygones when it comes to negotiating a postseason deal?  How about Jim Delany, who went to war for a year with Comcast over Big Ten TV?  You think he’s the kind of guy who’s OK with leaving any money on the table?

What gets me about Reid’s argument is that he’s comparing apples and oranges and hoping nobody notices.  CBS broadcasts 65 games of March Madness.  Is it logical to expect the same amount of TV money for a quarter of the number of games in a football tourney?

Reid also conveniently forgets about those conference regular season broadcast deals, like the ones the SEC just struck.  How much would those be devalued if D-1 football adopted an extended playoff?

Now it may be that a playoff would be a financial boon to schools not in BCS conferences, but before you make the silly argument that a playoff is being blocked so that the decision makers can

… keep the gravy train rolling for those constituencies – the bowls, fat cat boosters and administrators – at the expense of their schools’ and their sport’s economic best interests…

you might want to ask if that’s really how the numbers add up for the average SEC school.  I suspect that Mike Slive has squeezed the numbers a lot harder than Reid gives him credit for.  It doesn’t add up, as much as Reid wants it to.

Hey, I at least want to give him credit for this nice piece of snark, though.

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13 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles

13 responses to “Math made “it’s so easy”.

  1. Macallanlover

    Agreed it is silly to compare the dollars for March Madness to the CFB Playoff, but looking at the advertising dollars for the Super Bowl Game vs the collective revenue for the 7 games an 8 team playoff would require is worth exploring. No reason to think those 7 games, all of which could potentially be played on different/exclusive dates or times, wouldn’t generate $250MM in additional revenues. That is enough to cover expenses and give EVERY school in D1 $2MM. That would get the votes from the small schools who never see $2MM windfalls (remember Hawaii’s fifty thousand dollar recruiting budget from last year?)

    I am not a “spread the wealth” guy, but I do feel the need for a playoff transcends just the greed factor (sorry Delany, some things are more important). This year, again, demonstrates the need for a playoff. The first round games which could be played at the home stadiums of the four highest rated teams would be a revenue gain for those teams and communities providing an incentive to play every game as critical even if you have the conference title wrapped up.

  2. The Realist

    Warning: This comment is really long. You have been warned.

    The current postseason nets college football about $195,000,000 per year when all bowl payouts are included.

    This guy (and many, many others apparently) seriously thinks college football is costing itself up to $400,000,000 per year by not adopting a playoff?

    So, a 7 game tournament should yield nearly $600,000,000 per year? $85,700,000 per game? Really?

    NBC signed a 6-year, $3.6 billion contract to air Sunday night NFL football games and two Super Bowls. That’s 16 games per year for 6 years, plus two iterations of the most-watched sporting event in America… for $600,000,000 per year.

    And, on top of the regular season contracts that networks have, they are believed to want to pony up an ADDITIONAL $600,000,000 per year (the total cost of NBC’s NFL contract per year) for the broadcast rights to 7 games that may or may not be compelling?

    I don’t buy that. Let’s line ‘em up. Making some assumptions that would be in the best interest of television…

    Alabama is in as the SEC champion. Oklahoma is in as Big XII champion. USC is Pac Ten champ. Penn State is Big Ten champ. Cincinnati is Big East champ. Florida State is ACC champ. Utah is the non-BCS qualifier. And Texas is the final at-large.

    Alabama plays Florida State.
    Oklahoma plays Utah.
    USC plays Cincinnati.
    Penn State plays Texas.

    The only game that is must-see television is Penn State versus Texas. The other three are lopsided on paper. But, each of those games must garner $85,000,000. You think they could even garner $20,000,000 (which is about what they are paying for BCS matchups of similar caliber)? If they do, there’s only three games left to make up the $260,000,000 you just lost.

    If you have no upsets (which help to sell the otherwise meaningless first two rounds of the college basketball playoff, by the way), you get some good games…

    Alabama versus Penn State (or Texas) &
    USC versus Oklahoma.

    Those games might earn more money… but seriously… $85,000,000? That’s 400% more than what they would earn right now. And, these are just semi-final games. You really need to recoup some of the lost revenues from the first round games being less than compelling, so they really need to earn $130,000,000 each, so that the championship game will only have to earn $255,000,000. For the national title game. $255,000,000. To break even for the network. That’s 255 $1 million 30-second commercials. At 5 commercials per commercial break, that’s 51 television timeouts, or nearly one for every one minute of gameplay. That’s over 2 hours of commercials. And you thought the Fox broadcast of the BCS games were filled with commercials?

    And that is if the television networks don’t reduce their spending on the regular season… which is quite likely. Even if conference commissioners are leaving only $200,000,000 on the table by ignoring a playoff, each playoff game would need to earn $57,000,000. If you think 16 teams in the playoff would help, divide those numbers by 2 and see if they make more financial sense… oh, but you’ll also get some rancid first round matchups.

    Any way you slice it, I believe the “Money on the table” argument for a college football playoff is not thought out all that well.

  3. Hackerdog

    +1 Realist.

    I get tired of seeing pro-playoff wishful thinking passed off as analysis. “It would make more money because I really want it to,” isn’t compelling logic.

  4. Coastal Dawg

    Senator,

    I seem to remember a post some time ago comparing the total revenue (regular and post sesons) of football and basketball. Even with the big tournament money, football was still way ahead. Maybe I’m confused.

    You could surmise that since the regular Bball season is meaningless, networks save their money for the post season. Football on the other hand is getting TV money throughout the year.

  5. Max

    Is that writer the same Scott Reid who was the AJC’s UGA beat writer pre-Schlabach (i.e., late 80s/early 90s)?? I always wondered what happened to him. He did a good job.

  6. They are greedy for power more than money. They crave the control they have over the system. They do not want any new group of people to have any sort of control over the process. And they sure as heck do not want the actual schools to be able to control the process.

  7. I just laugh when I listen to anti-playoff folks defend their totally irrational and illogical position.

    “It will make the regular season less exciting.” – Yeah, because nobody watches NFL football games during the year. Oh wait…

    “Academics! We care about Academics.” – Yeah, whatever, liars.

    “People will still complain about making the top 8.” – Yeah, but so what. Unless there are 9 undefeated teams (which there won’t be, and from the top 6 conferences could never be) you will never have serious, legitimate gripes. #9 complaining about not getting in will be almost immediately ignored, and rightly so.

    There is absolutely not a single rational, reasonable argument against the playoff. That is why anti-playoff arguments boil down to illogical, emotional screeds like that article Senator linked here a week ago, and some of the comments here.

  8. Thomas Brown

    You are right about that Muckbeast.

    Boil down to illogical, emotional outbursts like some of the comments here in this blog.

    Right on.

    Take Senator Bluto’s statement here on this blog for example where Bluto states that CBS broadcasts 65 games a year.

    This is Bluto’s first argument on this blog about an 8-team playoff instead of the current 2-team playoff, that CBS would not pay more for an 8-team playoff in Football which has 10 times the interest obviously than basketball because CBS broadcasts 65 games in basketball.

    B.S.

    CBS does not broadcast 65 games a year.

    Bluto obviously never has watched a Men’s or Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

    Or, he would know that there are not 65 broadcasts of games on CBS of the NCAA Tourney.

    Say you are a fan of your team who finally made the NCAA Tournament.

    So, you turn on your CBS broadcast, and what do you get Bluto ?

    Go ahead, tell us again.

    What do you get Bluto ?

    You get maybe 7 or 8 minutes of the game broadcast.

    And, that only if it doesn’t conflict with three other games on at the same time in the 4 Regions.

    If the beginning of the game is where the tempo is set for the game, and 15 fouls are called against your 5-man rotation of big men in the first 4 minutes of the game – you probably didn’t see any of that because in another 1 of the 65 games somewhere else, CBS had a game finishing up which in their opinion was more important.

    I hate the way CBS broadcasts the 65 games of the NCAA Tournament.

    At least when they do the Olympics, they tape delay and broadcast the game so you can watch the damn game.

    That’s not 65 games broadcast by CBS and don’t fool yourself that it is.

    It’s not.

    And, you know it Bluto.

    So, don’t say it is.

    When it is not.

    And, Bluto’s second argument is that
    the regular season is lost in football if you have an 8-team playoff.

    B.S.

    Again.

    Is the regular season lost in basketball with a 65-team playoff ? That all you have then is the 8-team football playoff, and nothing else matters if you do have an 8-team playoff in college football.

    The whole entire season boils down to making the NCAA Tournament or not making the NCAA Tournament.

    Every one knew, for example, that the Georgia men’s team had to win every game at Georgia Tech Alexander Memorial for UGA to be in the NCAA Tournament.

    Every game has a much larger magnitude when you have an 8-team playoff than when you have only the current 2-team playoff.

    For example, Georgia’s game in the BCS Sugar Bowl against undefeated Hawaii meant NOTHING. We ended up Number 2 in the Final AP Poll, ahead of Ohio State.

    That’s because the 2-team playoff doesn’t work. You go undefeated playing in a lousy conference and having as Ohio State did last year and again this year the Number 50 Strength of Schedule – like Southern California last season and again this season too. And, you make the 2-team playoff.

    Such B.S. Bluto – as always.

  9. Thomas Brown

    Dear Realist :

    The Super Bowl is NOT the most-watched sports event in the U.S. It is the most-watched sports event in the world. Had you ever traveled outside the U.S., you would have known that.

    They pay $17 million now for the 5 BCS Bowl Games.

    None of which mean a damn thing, except for 1 and it is always controversial such as the blow-outs by The SEC in 3 of the last 5 MNC Games and blow-outs in the last 2 over Ohio State who everyone said did not belong there again last year – thus UGA finished Number 2 in the Final AP Poll.

    $17 million dollars per BCS Bowl Game, 5 games.

    (1) 8 plays 1.
    (2) 7 plays 2.
    (3) 6 plays 3.
    (4) 5 plays 4.

    (5) Winner of 8 and 1 plays winner of 5 and 4.

    (6) Winner of 7 and 2 plays winner of 6 and 3.

    (7) Winners of those 2 National Semi-Final Games play each other in a sport which right now is the only sport at any level not determined by a playoff.

    And, this sport, only in the Bowl Subdivision. All other college divisions have playoffs.

    7 games (1-7 above) at just $17 million for the current system of 5 BCS bowls, none of which means a damn thing except for the controversial Mythical National Championship Game not recognized by the NCAA, is :

    7 times $17 million is $119 million.

    How much of the 5 times $17 million for 5 BCS Bowls now which is $85 million is really for the 1 game that matters ?

    How many of the 34 bowl games go away because we expand the field from 34 games to 41 ?

    Obviously, all those weenie bowls never had any impact on who is NC anyway. Those bowl games are not reduced in prestige or made more meaningless.

    So, we are talking about fair.

    It is fair to guess that these games would be worth a huge sum of money.

    That’s in addition to what college football gets today.

    Those 2 semi-final games are worth Good Lord $50 million dollars each.

    The then game between those 2 winners would be worth $100 million by itself the first year the NCAA then finally did recognize the biggest college sport’s national champion for the 1st time ever.

    That’s $200 hundred million dollars a year for just those 3 games.

    There are 7 games, all of which mean something.

    Do you think the other 4 games are worth $50 million each ?

    I bet you they probably are.

    Too bad you cannot break it down.

    $400 million.

    $100 million Championship Game for the 1st time ever recognized by the NCAA in the biggest sport the NCAA administers.

    $50 million for the 2 semi-final games. That’s another $100 million for $200 million or half the $400 million this would not command.

    Leaving $50 million for the other 4 games which finally would not be meaningless.

    UGA was ranked Number 1 in 17 of the 23 preseason polls and about Number 2 in all the remaining 6.

    UGA obviously is not 1 of the top 8 teams in the nation.

    UGA lost to Number 1 Alabama and Number 2 Florida. We played no other team ranked in the AP Poll Top 25 but Number 1 and Number 2 all season long so far.

    UGA has the Number 23 NCAA Total Defense and the Number 24 NCAA Total Offense. Our special teams are not that good.

    The Polls are a Hell of a way to determine the National Champion in the single biggest collegiate sport.

    If the NCAA Tournament in Basketball is worth $400 million, by God Above the College Football Playoff is.

    What do you get ?

    9,000 to a basketball game.

    90,000 to a football game.

    I am not saying that College Football Playoffs should or would be worth 10 times the $400 million.

    1 Play in
    32
    16
    8
    Final 4
    2 plus 1 meaningless
    1

    That’s 65 games.

    Prime Times – that’s what 12 Prime Times

    Basketball is no where near the sport that Football is.

    Not close.

    I think you would be bringing in fans to a flawed sport, and only at this 1 level college and in just college only in the Bowl Subdivision.

    NFL is made up of these NFL players and especially from the top 8 teams in the nation. NFL gets like a 16 rating on TV.

    College Football, certainly for these 8 teams playing it out, can absolutely garner 16 ratings.

    But, not meaningless BCS Bowl Games between 8 teams currently in 4 of the 5 BCS Bowl Games.

    These games are worth more than BCS Bowl Games are.

    What’s wrong with you REALIST that you cannot break it down what you are trying to say that you think the 8-team playoff is not worth a lot more than the BCS Bowl Games. The math is so easy, and you failed to do the math at all.

  10. Thomas Brown

    Coastal Dawg :

    The reason why college football is worth a Hell of a Lot More than College Basketball is because it is a much more followed sport.

    It has nothing to do with the fact that the regular season basketball games are now meaningless now that we have an NCAA Basketball Tournament.

    Basketball is played in one-tenth the size stadiums. Their ratings are one-tenth the ratings of football.

    Any one who has 5 players, can win it all. Any one. 6 would be nice, but frankly 5 is all that is needed plus a role player to give the guards and a role player to give the big men a blow.

    Anyone who has ever watched an NBA game knows the sport is played by inner-city thugs who have horrible educations and if they go to college, typically play 1 season only and then flunk out. Their image is the worst therefore of all sports.

    You turn on an NBA game, and you are 1 of the very few select people who do.

    If you do, you could go watch a movie and come back for the last minute.

    You would have, then, watched the whole game.

    No one sits there and watches the sport.

    Football is the sport.

    Baseball is way ahead of basketball too.

    Soccer, worldwide, absolutely is as well.

    What do people watch Coastal Dawg ?

    Football.

    Only you, Coastal Dawg, would surmise that the ONLY REASON why basketball has a meaningless season is because of the playoffs in that 1 sport.

    TV pays contracts to televise live sports’ events based upon how many watch the sporting events.

    Now, you are not going to get anyone on these blogs of Bluto here to argue with you that basketball is more meaningful than football.

    That’s because no one gives a crap about basketball.

    It has nothing to do with the fact that that sport has a playoff.

    College Football is the Number 1 sporting event. Even with nearly 3 dozen NFL teams, far more people watch college football than NFL football.

    And, that is not because they have a playoff either.

    The fact of the matter is that college football is great.

    And, what makes it great has not 1 damn thing to do with the fact that it has a 2-team playoff that everyone hates.

    Every one.

  11. They are greedy for power more than money. They crave the control they have over the system. They do not want any new group of people to have any sort of control over the process. And they sure as heck do not want the actual schools to be able to control the process.

    Muck, who are “they”? If you’re referring to the college presidents and the conference commissioners, who do you think they answer to?

    And unless those folks are willing to cede control over a D-1 football tourney to the NCAA – and I think it’s safe to assume that “over our dead bodies” would be the correct standard to apply to that possibility – they’re still going to have the same control over a new playoff deal that they’ve got now.

    My point here is the one that Hackerdog made. All this easy money talk is vastly overblown.

  12. MJ

    Muckbeast,

    You wrote:

    There is absolutely not a single rational, reasonable argument against the playoff. That is why anti-playoff arguments boil down to illogical, emotional screeds like that article Senator linked here a week ago, and some of the comments here.

    Actually, it’s just the opposite. There are no good reasons for a playoff. Most of the Bowls are corporations with rights under federal statute. Like any other corporation, they have an ethical obligation to their stakeholders and to protect the brand. Some of them work in conjunction with Economic Development Corporations created by county commissioners in their respective regions.

    No logical reasons exist for these corporations to give up their rights on the whims of people who want a playoff.

    Having said that, I dislike the BCS but for a separate set of reasons. Namely, Bowl money has increased 237% in the past nine seasons. A playoff could generate even more.

    What is the players share of that money?

    The higher the revenues, the stronger the case for player unionization becomes. Right now, they are one sympathetic judge away from seeing the whole thing tumble like a house of cards.

  13. Thomas Brown:

    I thought I was long-winded. Clearly, I misunderstood the definition of the word. Thanks for clarifying.

    1) So, when you leave the country, they give you a pamphlet with facts about the rest of the world like the Super Bowl is the most watched sports program in the world? I did not know that. I must have missed that on my previous travels. By the way, since college football has so little audience in the rest of the world, I didn’t think it would make my argument more compelling to say “the world” instead of “the U.S.” I suppose I was wrong. Since the Super Bowl is the most watched sports program in the WORLD!!!!! WITH A BULLET, and NBC only had to pay $600 M to show two iterations plus 16 primetime (meaning they get a choice of the game they show) games of a still meaningful regular season per year for 6 years, I don’t know how I could possibly not understand how a college football tournament consisting of exactly 7 games in one year would be worth more to television networks. By the way, the NFL is the most watched, most popular sport in the country by a still significant margin. College football is next. NASCAR is third. Baseball and basketball follow.

    2) ESPN has actually paid $500 M over 4 years for the rights to broadcast the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, and BCS Championship game. The Rose costs ABC $30 M per year. That means those 5 BCS games earn $155 M per season. The rest of the bowl game payouts total $40 M, so, I think it is safe to assume the television rights might add up to that number. That’s where I derived my $195 M total for the current college postseason.

    3) A playoff is not in addition to what the conferences have today. You would usurp the bowls. You cannot have a playoff and the top tier bowls. Eventually, the rest of the bowls would die out due to a lack of interest.

    4) How do you make the jump from $30 M meaningless games to $50 to $200 M meaningful games? Even if the current meaningful game earned $100 M, that would mean the 4 meaningless games were worth $10 M each. Now, the meaningful game is going double in value, and the other now meaningful games will garner $50 to $100 M each? Wow. Where are all of these additional viewers going to come from?

    5) Part of the point of my post was to point out that the “playoff = more money” talk is based on conjecture. You continued to use conjecture and called it “easy math.” You say the playoff should be worth more… simply because you think it should be so. Where is your market research? Where are the other viewers going to come from? I’ve never heard of the playoff demographic, but it must be fairly substantial. Did you know that the first two rounds of the basketball playoff are more watched than the rest of the tournament? Do you know why that might be so? Why would networks pay more to get a college football playoff than they currently pay for NFL football, which is still the #1 sport in America (not the world… that’s the other futbol). I’ve done the math (to the extent that I have information available), and I know the greedy bastards that run this shit. I know that they would jump at the opportunity to double their money… even at the expense of losing what makes college football unique – the regular season. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that these guys that are in charge simply snub their nose at money. They don’t.

    6) Finally, Thomas. I wish you would change your screen name. You do a disservice to what I think of when I think of Thomas Brown. You should generally not use thinly-veiled racial remarks, because they only serve to discredit the rest of your argument. And, one sentence does not mean you’ve created a paragraph. Only tools with no education and newspaper columnists do that. It is not becoming.