What profiteth a conference to gain a network… and lose its national exposure?

It looks like the Big Ten Network is pulling down some decent money from Fox that’s being distributed to the conference schools. (h/t The Wizard of Odds)

… Neil Theobald, IU’s vice president and chief financial officer, and a Fox spokesman confirmed the Big Ten Network contract runs 20 years, with the money guaranteed to each member school throughout. That includes $6.12 million this academic year. IU officials say they have received two payments of $1.53 million each, with the remainder coming in March and June.

Six million a year ain’t exactly chump change. Still, there’s some grumbling, mainly over the fact that TV exposure is limited.

For fans of the Hoosiers, the situation is no different than when the network launched last August, with numerous fans being unable to watch the game on cable television. At least one IU trustee is losing patience.

“I’m very frustrated that this deal has not been done,” trustee Phil Eskew said. “We can’t keep going on like this.”

Eskew said he’s also concerned that a year and a half after the contract between the Big Ten Conference and Fox was announced, not enough people know the details. He said he believes nobody at IU has read it other than Adam Herbert, IU’s president in 2006. Eskew wonders if IU could get out of the deal if the cable issue isn’t resolved.

Silly man. Of course not. The school’s already spent the money!

… Theobald said because IU has already used the money to issue $45 million in bonds for athletic facilities, there won’t be any desire to pull out of the contract. School spokesman Larry MacIntyre agreed, saying that would be tantamount to pulling out of the Big Ten.

In any event, I’m sure the SEC is closely watching the development of the BTN. CBS distributed $43 million to the SEC in 2006 – just for football broadcast rights – under a contract in its twelfth year (scheduled to expire after this season). Most importantly, though, the SEC gets its games on CBS broadcast nationally, regardless of cable. Don’t think that doesn’t matter.

“CBS has been a terrific partner,” Slive said. “We’re the only league in the country that has a national network partner, and so every one of our games on CBS goes everywhere whether you have cable or don’t. If you look at the ABC distribution of so-called national games, they are primarily regional. CBS does our game — it goes everywhere. And I think that speaks to the strength of the SEC and its football when a major network can have its full football inventory be one conference.”

The SEC will leverage to the max in 2009. Whether the conference will actually go out and start its own network is anyone’s guess. But I have no doubt it’ll threaten to. What it won’t do is leave itself at the mercy of an outfit like Comcast.



Filed under Big Ten Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

2 responses to “What profiteth a conference to gain a network… and lose its national exposure?

  1. NM

    The only way the SEC could improve its contract, from my perspective, would be to have TWO national games. Put the East on CBS and the West on FOX … like the NFL, only more entertaining.


  2. DirkDawggler


    FOX should be banned from broadcasting college football. Period. You honestly want to risk having Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis and Jimmy Johnson defiling something as sacred as an SEC football game? I’d sooner cast my lot with Lincoln Financial…