Mike Slive and CBS: leverage, leverage, who’s got the leverage?

Believe it or not, this doesn’t surprise me.

The latter point first:  The CBS broadcast contract isn’t regional; it’s national.  Technically speaking, the SEC isn’t adding any new eyeballs to the deal by bringing Missouri  and Texas A&M to the table.  So CBS isn’t acting impressed.  You know what would impress CBS?  A nine-game conference schedule.

And on point the first?  Well, if you’re Mike Slive and you’re used to getting your way, there’s only one response you’ve got to CBS’ recalcitrance.  Your own network!  (Plus, that probably feeds into a few presidents’ egos who want to have what their peers in the Big Ten and Pac-12 already boast of having.)  Problem is, it’s not really much of a threat, as CBS is hardly interested in what the SEC will be throwing on its own network.  There’s also the issue of how much schools like Florida, which makes a good deal off of Tier 3 rights, are going to be willing to subordinate their interests to the greater good.  (Answer:  not very, thanks.)

All of this does make me wonder how much due diligence Slive had performed with the networks before embarking on the SEC’s expansion journey.  The jury is still out on how good a job he did negotiating the existing broadcast deals.

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UPDATE:  Here’s the full SBJ piece.  If all the SEC is talking about spinning off into its own network is what it had already sold off before, then it’s certainly a doable deal.  As for CBS, this is the nut graf:

CBS still will carry the same number of football games each season as part of its package, and network executives are arguing that schools such as Alabama, Florida and LSU—not Missouri and Texas A&M—drive the value of the conference. Without additional inventory, CBS’s stance has been that it shouldn’t pay more solely because the conference added two new schools.  [Emphasis added.]

You could argue – and CBS probably has – that, if anything, expansion waters down the inventory, because sticking with an eight-game schedule means that some of the conference’s premier draws will play each other less often.

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24 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

24 responses to “Mike Slive and CBS: leverage, leverage, who’s got the leverage?

  1. UFTimmy

    The more time goes on, the more the move to 14 looks like a no brainer, right? Right? Oh god please say yes.

  2. Big-G

    Doesn’t CBS show the USOpen Tennis for the first few weeks in Sept? Don’t know how much they would benefit from the 9th game.

    • Ubiquitous GA Alum

      Good point … Doesn’t CBS wait until the 3rd week in Sept before broadcasting games? Which is why they’ve rarely shown UGA vs USCe

  3. Cojones

    As long as that good leverage (creating own network) remains on the table, it provides another and bigger chip in the reconferencing and NC Game game. Slive should be driving the boat by now, with Delaney anxiously viewing from his RB ark. Let’s up our ESPN anchor and Swiftboat our ass to the brass ring of this Merry-Go-Round. Fuck’em.

  4. Always Someone Else's Fault

    I’ve never thought the primary goal of “expansion” was just more eyeballs and a better $$$-per school annual pay-out.

    The real goal here has been and remains “contraction” – concentrating the earning power of college sports in general to the big state flagship schools and their conferences. We’re already in the final stretch towards the 4/64 landscape. What stuns me here isn’t the trajectory, it’s the velocity. This is moving way faster than I thought it would.

    The big increases in expansion have been funded exclusively by ESPN and Fox. CBS was never going to pay much more than they already do.

  5. Been saying that the whole time. “We won’t play 9 games. We won’t play 9 games. We won’t, wait, what’s that? An extra $xx,000,000 per year if we play a 9th game? Ok, we’ll play 9 games.”

    • rbcdawg

      Agreed. I’d be willing to bet some dough that we’ll be playing 9 games starting in 2013.

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        12 x 8 = 96
        14 x 9 = 126
        30 more games. Tons more money, right? Probably not, at least not from ESPN and CBS.

        Maybe the SEC squeezes more games into ESPN’s Thursday night offering and Saturday evening package, at the expense of (insert conference here). But they are not adding programming to ESPN or CBS. Those media companies have their slots, and those slots are already filled with (mostly SEC) programming. Maybe the increased inventory makes for better inventory, with more available games with national brands to choose from, and I honestly have no idea how those ratings differentials work on advertising revenue. But the play here to me seems to be to reset the ESPN/CBS deals to market value, and, once those are locked in, see what sort of inventory an SEC channel requires to be viable.

        ESPN’s already being carried in Texas. Adding Texas AM and Missouri possibly helps their advertising revenue streams, but it does nothing for their subscriber dollars. And those advertising dollars have to be incremental at best.

        That’s why I never thought this was about next year’s media rights fees. It’s always been about locking up the vast majority of college sports revenue for a select group of schools for the next 100 years.

        • FCDore

          I disagree somewhat in that the additional inventory can be smoothed over the entire season and give CBS and ESPN far better choices in early and late-season games. The week before Thanksgiving, for example, when the SEC plays its annual challenge with the Southern Conference, offers terrible choices for top-tier games (LSU-Ole Miss, MSU-Arkansas, Tennessee-Vandy). The extra 30 games created by both a 9-game schedule and expansion gives the networks a lot more flexibility.

          This has been my simple question all along. How much more $$$ does a nine-game schedule produce for each team (netting out the lost revenue from possibly not having teams qualify for bowls in Memphis and Birmingham)?

  6. By Georgia We Did It

    What is included in the tier 3 rights? Heard the ACC doesn’t own theirs….what does it contain or mean? Thanks.

  7. Bryant Denny

    Yes, CBS is national, but one could argue that the game of the week is somewhat regional. I don’t have the numbers handy, but I would guess the SEC game of the week pulls a little better in Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and parts of Florida (for example) than it does in Houston or Dallas. If that happens to be true, then, yes, more eyeballs are added to the product.

    Related to a nine-game conference schedule, if it makes it tougher to eat at the money trough at the end of the season, well, then it’s not worth the extra inventory.

    Also, it’s not like the number of games CBS broadcasts will change significantly. And adding two more teams will improve the overall 12 or 13 regular season lineup.

    • Cojones

      If you are speaking only of monetary goals. While that’s a viable pursuit once you are committed in a certain direction, what about other goals of College Football? Nine games would be a business decision only in your book. What about historic rivalries and butts in the seats? Everyone wants their team to be on Gameday every Sat just to know that the country is viewing and possibly learning about your Alma Mater, but quite frankly, I’d be slightly embarrassed if that is touted while we slay some poor underdog and demonstrate nationally where our druthers are.

      But if you put a Good Old Fashioned Hate Game on, you would get the best of both worlds, money and exposure, and that’s going to call for a 9-game SEC schedule, screw the dilution.

      • Bryant Denny

        Yes – I was speaking of monetary goals.

        Tradition-wise, the league was wrecked when expanding to 14 teams. It will be even worse if two more are ever added.

        I agree with the league coaches concerning a nine-game schedule. It’s too much. But the bigger kick is losing a home game every other year. Dawg administrators and businesses may be used to that via the Cocktail Party, but towns like Tuscaloosa aren’t interested.

        • Cojones

          Understood, but many here view the WLOCP the same way you view a nine-game schedule. Don’t know of any merchant in Athens that’s used to that.

          Are you guys going to make a little more money for me when you play LSU, who now has a QB? I’m betting your QB will light it up this year.

          • Bryant Denny

            Shoot, y’all know more about Mettenberger (or whatever his name is) than I do. Hard for me to believe a first year guy like that will be much better than what they had, but that’s not a high bar.

            Of course, first year guy named Newton proved me wrong, too. :)

            • Cojones

              Mett throws accurately and, according to witnesses at UGA, can throw the ball so hard that it whistles when it goes by. He will be a handful, but you guys can take care of that, can’t you? McCarron is an undersold QB who is now uncovered. He won the big one and, if a call goes the O possession direction, won them both. To me, he no longer is a secret talent. He’s Bama’s Mr. Dependable.

              I’m looking forward to facing you guys this year. And we know where.

  8. BulldogBen

    Anybody else get an email from UGA today that there are STILL season tickets and single game tickets available?

    Yikes.

  9. Not terribly surprised at the prospect of an ESPN-run SEC Network. I mean, the last round of negotiations already resulted in ESPN branding their broadcasts of SEC sports with the “SEC Network” title. I think they were technically referred to as “the SEC Network on ESPN.” It’s only a small leap from that to ESPN using the same infrastructure and branding to branch it off as a separate channel.

    I’ll be a little disappointed if it turns out that the SEC Network is operated and partially owned by an existing network. If it’s not wholly owned by the conference (a la the Pac 12 Network), then the conference will end up majorly regretting it sometime down the road, probably feeling pretty foolish.

    I already get the feeling that the Pac 12 is laughing at the BTN model, as it seems the former conference is already in a better position than the latter. With case studies in both of those templates, it’s hard to believe that Slive and the presidents will choose less than half ownership in the network like the Big Ten did.

    Whatever the case, the SEC’s will be the most in-demand conference network due to both prestige and footprint. There will be plenty of in-demand content— not just 3rd-tier football, but basketball, baseball, olympic sports, coaches shows, analysis shows, and any other team-specific programming currently airing on regional networks like SunSports. You know we’ll all watch.

  10. Mayor of Dawgtown

    The further this expansion business goes, particularly the TV end of it, the more I am convinced that for the SEC less is more. I jokingly suggested in past posts that the SEC ought to kick out USCe, Arky, Mizzou and A&M then move to a 9 game round-robin schedule, that being the only way to crown a true conference champion. Now that the SEC is going to join in with the Big 12 for a Rose Bowl-type postseason arrangement that is EXACTLY what would be in the best interest of the SEC member institutions financially. More and better product with fewer mouths to feed. More $$ to divvy up and fewer schools. The conference would have to give up the SECCG though but the dough from the Big 12-SEC Bowl would more than make up for it–not to mention the added revenue from the 9th game.

    • reddawn

      As long as you’re throwing out ridiculous hypotheticals, shouldn’t we kick out Vandy and Miss St instead of A&M and Mizzou? The former bring less to the table than the latter.

      Actually, maybe Arkansas survives the 4 team cut too and Ole Miss does not. Cut Vandy, Miss St, Ole Miss, and…SC (SC misses final cut, Arky and Kentucky survive).

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Everybody can’t be a chief–you gotta have indians to take losses for the top teams to win.

    • Cojones

      The SECCG gets the SEC Champ to the #1 Bowl Game in the country. Why would we lose it?

  11. Skeeter

    Adding more teams in larger markets means higher overall ratings for the SEC and more total, actual viewers over a larger swath of the country. The current contract gives CBS the coverage, but that’s only potential eyeballs, not actual eyeballs that decide to tune in and watch the games.

    Higher ratings in more desirable consumer markets translates to a higher value for those ad spots, which is what pays for TV. Slive knows this, CBS lives this. This is how the SEC will get more money.