that ESPN’s reported to have thrown down a four-year, $500 million offer for the whole shooting match after the Fox contract expires in 2010. (h/t The Wizard of Odds) That’s a mere 50% increase over what Fox currently pays for the right to promote Jumpers during a craptastically broadcast game.
Before you begin wildly celebrating the possibility that robot graphics may soon become a relic of the BCS’ past, three sobering points to consider:
- Fox has a right of first refusal that runs for approximately another week, so it’s possible that it could elect to pay more for what it’s currently got, which I suppose wouldn’t mean fewer minutes devoted to advertising, would it? Naaaah.
- The World Wide Leader would pull all of the BCS games, including the Rose Bowl, off of over-the-air broadcast and onto cable.
- It would also put off the possibility of a D-1 football playoff until after the 2015 season. (That’s not a drawback to some, of course.)
Doc Saturday, who’s a playoff proponent (albeit a level headed one) sees a different drawback.
… From a pro-playoff perspective, though, the real consequence of a ridiculously lucrative deal between the BCS and the Worldwide Leader is the potential for the playoff argument to disappear altogether from the discourse of the sport’s most visible, agenda-setting media giant. With no major corporate stake in the Series or the legitimacy of The National Championship Game as an actual championship game, playoff talk gets bandied about pretty regularly on ESPN’s various outlets. It comes up on GameDay and studio segments with Rece, Lou and Mark; Kirk Herbstreit has gone out of his way for years to argue on-air for a “Plus One,” the bridge to a playoff (or a mini-playoff in itself, depending on your definition of “Plus One”) in a less revolutionary guise. Even if it comes out in half-baked form, the concept of a playoff still exists in the mainstream discourse for the average fan who tunes in to College Football Live or GameDay Final, or to any random game wherein Chris Spielman or Andre Ware or somebody might bring it up. Online, Pat Forde was setting up hypothetical brackets just last week.
But corporations are usually loathe to allow employees to pull the legs from underneath a $500 million investment. My concern as playoff advocate is that the Worldwide Leader — which really is that, in terms of influence and agenda-setting — will start to look like a more slickly-produced, less obvious version of the shameless BCS home page…
I dunno… giving Herbie and Mark May one less hypothetical thing to whine about strikes me as more of a feature than a bug, but what do I know?