The 800-pound gorilla is trying to put on weight.

Per Jon Wilner:

The strengthening of the SEC and kneecapping of the Big 12 is, in our view, entirely about ESPN.

Specifically, it’s about ESPN’s master plan, as directed by the Disney overlords, to reallocate resources within a changing media landscape.

As ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro told Variety before the Texas and Oklahoma news broke:

“We have a five-year plan and also, we have a ten-year plan, and we are actively looking at our rights and evaluating what’s coming up, and what we can go after.”

That plan obviously includes college football, but with a laser focus on total ownership of two immense properties: The SEC regular season and championship game; and the expanded College Football Playoff.

ESPN already controls the former, thanks to the recent acquisition of the SEC’s ‘Game of the Week’ package (formerly owned by CBS).

And ESPN is hoping to acquire the latter, if the CFP decides to renew its agreement instead of taking the expanded playoff package to the open market.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Greg Sankey isn’t the only player in this realignment blockbuster.  Nor does he wield the most power.

And Mickey is playing a longer game than is the SEC.

— All of which places immense importance, for the Pac-12 specifically and the sport generally, on the timing of playoff expansion.

The current contract with ESPN expires after the 2025 season.

Contractually, expanding prior to that point would force the playoff to renew its rights with ESPN.

Only by waiting for the current contract cycle to expire could the CFP take its rights to the open market and potentially lure multiple bidders to the table. But five years is a long time to wait for the 12-team event.

ESPN and, by extension, the SEC, undoubtedly want the CFP rights locked up as soon as possible. That would secure a monopoly on two of the sport’s three key media properties — the other being the Big Ten, of which ESPN currently owns a portion.

The long game is easy to spot: Disney would control the rights to the expanded CFP, the SEC, the ACC and part of the Big Ten.

I’m sensing some serious one hand washing the other vibes going on here — ESPN helps grease the skids for SEC expansion and Sankey does his damnedest not to put the CFP broadcast rights up for open bidding in a few years.  Nice win-win there, fellas.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

8 responses to “The 800-pound gorilla is trying to put on weight.

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    Of course, monetary considerations play no part whatsoever in the decision. Oy, Sankey would have them playing the 85 Bears if ESPN said so.


  2. 81Dog

    The suits at Disney make Jeff Bezos look like Gandhi. We are all simply wallets to be emptied to the suits. They will happily wreck everything that makes CFB special if they calculate they’ll make an extra $100 on ad revenue. That’s what CFB is to the suits: a bridge for ads. They count on our irrational love for our schools to keep us glued to the TV while they bleed us dry. Their answer is always “if you change this, we make more. And we will pay you some more.”

    Liked by 8 people

  3. Ran A

    I’m in an industry that involves licensing product… It is really really simple… “Mickey be a ho”. That is rule # 1 when dealing with Disney and something you never-ever forget or let your guard down.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. W Cobb Dawg

    Perhaps it’s just a lucky coincidence, but you gotta wonder whether espn envisioned or connived the Texas & Oklahoma shift when deciding to pursue the CBS SEC package. If I’m committed to maximizing an investment, that’s a logical and obvious goal.

    If any network Is going to reign supreme in cfb, you’ve got to have those top sec games.


  5. Remember the Quincy

    It’s been fun reading ESPN’s coverage of the Texas/OU move. They’re reporting it as if it’s some big unknown, citing “sources” and such. They’re in the middle of it, driving the damn bus, which makes their reporting look foolish.


  6. CB

    Has is been discussed on GTP how ESPN is supposedly bleeding money and Disney is shopping the property?

    As a fan I don’t like the idea of a cash strapped entity controlling most of the CFB media properties. That likely ends up resulting in a lot of pay walls.


    • 81Dog

      Hello, 100 dollar a month ESPN +!

      Boxing seems to run on fumes, but PPV makes the top guys crazy rich. Everyone can’t be in the top 2%.Welcome to Economic Darwinism, where CFB becomes Venezuela: the super wealthy few, the grindingly poor many, and it girls everywhere.