Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

What Bob Bowlsby hath wrought.

Geez, what a mess.

The Big 12’s TV partners are pushing back on the conference’s plans to expand.

ESPN and Fox Sports believe that expansion with schools from outside the power five conferences will water down the Big 12 and make it less valuable, not more, sources said. But the Big 12 is financially motivated to add more teams. A clause in the conference’s media deals stipulate that if the Big 12 expands, it would receive pro rata increases in its rights fees.

The original deals pay $2.6 billion over 13 years, or about $20 million per school annually. Expansion by two schools, theoretically, would force ESPN and Fox combined to pay an additional $40 million per year in rights fees. Expansion by four teams could mean another $80 million per year.

Both networks, according to sources, are digging their heels in against paying those kinds of increases based on expansion with schools outside the power five.

In other words, the networks just aren’t that into your conference, Bob.  (Not that you’re commenting publicly about it.)  Especially when expansion boils down to nothing more than short-term greed.

The drive to expand is fueled by the opportunity to almost immediately generate more money for its schools. The conference’s TV deals run through 2024-25 and the Big 12 already trails the rest of the power five conferences in revenue, so expansion stands out as the only way for the Big 12 to increase revenue.

Any newcomers to the league wouldn’t be expected to receive a full share of TV revenue for multiple years, meaning more money for the 10 existing members…

… The conference already has announced plans to start a football championship game next year, which could mean another $25 million to $30 million in revenue. Absent a conference channel, the only other way for the Big 12 to significantly grow revenue in the near term is to add schools and activate that pro rata clause in its media contracts.

That kind of cash grab, sources say, is rubbing ESPN and Fox the wrong way because any new schools would not carry the profile of most power five schools, which is what the networks are paying for.

But think of all the cachet Cincinnati as a card-carrying member of the Big 12 would carry, guys.

The best part of this is that the networks previously displayed an unusual altruism towards the conference.

There’s also some history here. Executives at ESPN and Fox remember 2010 when they helped hold the conference together against the Pac-12’s raid by keeping rights fees at the 12-team level, even though the Big 12 was reduced to 10 teams — Nebraska left for the Big Ten, while Colorado departed for the Pac-12. That was under the previous Big 12 administration led by former Commissioner Dan Beebe.

Maybe Bob and his presidents see that as a sign of weakness.  In any event, pissing off the hands that write the checks may work in the short run — both ESPN and Fox are stuck with the language they negotiated — but one thing about all contracts is that they eventually expire.  And when that happens…

Another option would be to go along with the increases now and not support the Big 12 in 2025, when the grant of rights and the TV deals expire.

Should that turn out to be the case, it won’t just be the TV deals that expire.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain

Is the ACC Network as valuable as the SEC Network?

Let’s just say ESPN will start finding out real soon.

ACC Network’s first test comes next summer when ESPN starts negotiating a new affiliate deal with Altice, a negotiation that promises to be a tough sell since the cable operator has systems near New York City, which is a long way from ACC member Syracuse and not really part of the conference’s footprint. One of the few cable operators that does not carry SEC Network, Altice has been public about its desire to cut costs.

ESPN could cut individual ACC Network deals, but most programmers and distributors like to wait until their big affiliate deals expire — and ESPN’s biggest ones aren’t up until several years after ACC Network’s planned 2019 launch. ESPN’s affiliate deals with Comcast and Charter expire in 2021; ESPN’s Dish Network deal runs until 2022.

Sources expect ESPN to price the ACC Network similar to SEC Network, which at launch was around $1.30 per subscriber per month in-market and around 25 cents per subscriber per month out-of-market.

Ourand thinks the problem for the network is that the sports programming market has changed in the last couple of years since the SEC signed its deal.  Perhaps the more relevant issue is whether the product itself is as attractive to its potential viewing audience.

10 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, ESPN Is The Devil

The ACC gets its network.

A deal is struck.

The Atlantic Coast Conference and ESPN have agreed to a 20-year deal and rights extension through the 2035-36 academic year, sources said.

The ACC also extended its conference grant of rights deal nine years through 2035-36, a source said.

The conference’s grant of rights makes it untenable financially for a school to leave, guaranteeing in the 20 years of the deal that a school’s media rights, including revenue, for all home games would remain with the ACC regardless of the school’s affiliation.

The ACC’s new grant of rights also automatically extends Notre Dame’s contract with the conference as a member in all sports but football through 2035-36, a source said. If the Irish forgo football independence in the next 20 years, they are contracted to join the ACC.

Prevent conference members from leaving for two decades and lock in Notre Dame?  Not too shabby, John Swofford.  The only way the ACC is going to suffer any of its member schools being poached in the near future is if the entire conference blows up.  Hell, ask the Big 12 if they wouldn’t like that kind of stability.  The extra TV money is almost a bonus.

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Filed under ACC Football, ESPN Is The Devil

Kirby Smart understands offseason angst.

He’s up in Bristol, doing the annual ESPN ass kiss all coaches have to do, and that meant he got some face-to-face time with Mike Greenberg, who laid into Smart a few months ago over his transfer restriction policy.

Things were a little mellower this time, mainly because Smart was gracious.

After about 10 minutes discussing other matters, Greenberg brought up his criticism of Smart, and offered him an open-ended chance to respond.

“I appreciate that, Mike, first of all,” Smart said. “And I think in the down time of college football, when there’s not a lot going on, it’s easy to reach and grab straws to yell and scream about something, and I certainly think that issue is a sensitive issue to a lot of people…”

Bloviators gotta bloviate, y’all.  Take it from one who knows.

11 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

The money river keeps on rolling.

For all the glum talk about ESPN’s future, it didn’t stop Mickey from shelling out more than a billion dollars over the next six years for the second half of the Big Ten’s media rights package.

The $2.64 billion deals with Fox, ESPN and CBS average $440 million per year and nearly triple the amount ESPN and CBS had been paying for the same programming. ESPN signed a 10-year deal worth $100 million annually in 2006 — a payout that increased to $150 million this year due to the addition of Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers to the conference. CBS paid an average of around $6 million for its current basketball-only deal.

The deal does not include Big Ten Network’s package of rights, which runs to 2031-32.

I suspect the SEC is paying attention.  Unfortunately, its contracts aren’t up for rebidding for a few years.  Unless something comes up, like conference expansion (again)…

12 Comments

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

“I’ve never been more disrespected in my entire career than I have been at Baylor.”

Et tu, Herbstreit?

Those people are monsters.

41 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

Uncle Verne’s heir apparent?

There have been rumors floating around for a few weeks that Brad Nessler was preparing to jump ship from ESPN to CBS, where he would eventually succeed Uncle Verne on that network’s SEC broadcasts.

Evidently, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

One interesting point to me…

So Nessler’s giving up calling playoff games in return for getting the shot to do the SECCG play-by-play.  Interesting set of priorities, no?

31 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football