“The leverage changed”: TV and college football

This Andy Staples piece on how the relationship between television and college football has developed since the courts tossed out the NCAA’s control of broadcast rights is a must read.  He does a brilliant job of showing how the schools have slowly come to realize the power they have in the marketplace and how ESPN anticipated where the market was headed sooner than its competitors did and used that awareness to build its broadcast empire.

But it’s his where-things-are-going conclusion that should really make you think:

Money and technology remain the wild cards. The NFL rakes in such huge sums because it is a single seller. It is the only entity selling elite professional football. There are five sellers (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) of elite college football. That holds prices down somewhat. Will those leagues someday merge and sell their media rights as a single entity for an even more astronomical sum? They did it as the BCS for postseason games, and they’ll do it again with the playoff. If they ever chose to pool regular-season rights, they’d be the CFA all over again. The Pac-12’s Scott sees significant barriers to that, but with college sports still undervalued relative to their earning potential, anything is possible. [Emphasis added.]  “It would be no small undertaking,” Scott said. “But I’ve said for some time that I do see — over time — you’ll see further consolidation of conferences or more consolidation for how rights are sold. As there is more sophistication in the college space, you realize that value for schools is left on the table because of fragmentation. I think markets tend to correct.”

Anybody who doesn’t see D-1 football being radically restructured in the next decade or so is being naive.  There’s simply too much money not to.

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10 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

10 responses to ““The leverage changed”: TV and college football

  1. Biggus Rickus

    “There are five sellers (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) of elite college football.”

    One of these things is not like the others.

  2. Go Dawgs!

    Serious question: are we not already making more than enough money for amateur athletics?

    I fully agree that this is most likely where we’re heading, but I disagree that it’s where we should be going. These programs are already flush with money. Worrying about making still more to continually keep up with the Joneses is what has led to the loss of several great traditional rivlaries every year, and the loss of any semblance of courageous scheduling at the majority of schools in our league. In many cases in college football, more money equals less fun.

  3. Governor Milledge

    The financial advantage for a consolidated entity in college football selling TV rights would ultimately be derived from the “collusive effects,” in not essentially being pitted against a similar organization in terms of price.The NFL still has two separate conference packages they sell to the different networks; however, the conference packages are not being bid against each other, the networks are doing the bidding against each other.The benefits would be greatest for the conferences of medicore quality (ie,ACC, Big East), not the performance outlier (SEC).

    I think the biggest long-term benefit for the SEC would be from forming its own cable TV channel. Lots of cheap product to fill up the airtime from non-revenue sports, and full control over the channel access rights fees, which the average SEC fan would gladly pay up for. However, even the NFL doesn’t exclusively have games on its own channel, so there would still be room for the single, massive CFB entity to separately bid out its prime time slots, its Thursday night games, its 3:30 Saturday slot…