Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

A cynic’s paradise

I’m having an email discussion with a reader about (what else?) where things go from here in the new super league version of college football we’re watching emerge.  He still thinks there’s a place for academic reputation in the realm of expansion, particularly in the case of the Big Ten.

I’m not seeing it, mainly because ESPN and Fox could give a rat’s ass about academics.  They’re steering the expansion train and the only thing that matters to them is attracting eyeballs.  As Jon Wilner puts it,

Geography no longer matters.

Academic reputation no longer matters.

Now, the main driver is brand value: Fox and ESPN will pay for the football programs that generate ratings and are most likely to land in prime TV windows.

That’s it.  That’s all there is now.

The math is simple.

Thompson said the Big Ten’s decision to add two Los Angeles-based universities was rooted in a simple math equation. The 14 existing conference members know they’ll receive approximately $71.4 million per university under the new Fox deal. Adding two more partners only made sense if they could generate a minimum of $143 million in additional distributable revenue.

“To get there you could assume that the bulk of the 5.2 million pay TV homes in LA, San Diego, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara become inner-market Big Ten Network subscribers,” he said. “That will add significant affiliate revenue for the network.”

Adding Southern California to the portfolio increases the Big Ten’s core TV households by 25 percent. The result is additional advertising revenue for the Big Ten Network, Fox Broadcast Network and FS1 as well.

Said Thompson: “That should all be enough to convince Fox that the additional rights fees are worthwhile.”

If you can make it worth the broadcasters’ while, you get a ticket to the big boys’ club.  And if you can’t…

… Oregon and Washington may be of interest to the Big Ten. However, Thompson estimated that those two Pac-12 universities, along with the Oregon and Washington television markets, would only generate an additional $60 million in combined additional revenues.

It’s good money, but well shy of the $143 million breakeven for the Big Ten.

It doesn’t kill the possibility of Oregon and Washington following USC and UCLA into the conference. It just means that the Big Ten members have two options if they’re going to do it: A) Be OK with about $6 million less annually to have UO and UW in the house; or B) Welcome Oregon and Washington, but inform the newcomers that they won’t get full distributions for a while.

Yeah, like Option A) is a real consideration.

Back to Wilner for the final word:

How much value do Arizona and Arizona State carry on the open market? Specifically, how attractive are they to the Big 12?

The schools certainly fit geographically, and Arizona’s basketball program would be ideal for the Big 12.

But valuation is based on the strength of your football brand, and the Wildcats are a tick above zero on that scale.

The Sun Devils would need to pack enough media value to account for Arizona, as well, if we presume they’re a package deal. (I’m not sure that’s the case, but it’s a subject for another column.)

ASU’s situation is comparable to the dilemma facing Cal and Stanford: The size of your media market matters far less than it did a decade ago.

Value is based on the ability of your football program to drive ratings and claim prime broadcast windows.

When they say it’s about the money, believe ’em.  Welcome to the new world, folks.


Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain, It's Just Bidness

Another SEC tradition

You’ll be shocked, shocked to read this.

Three days into its spring meetings, the SEC remains split on a future scheduling format for a variety of reasons.

One of those is money.

At the center of the league’s debate between division-less eight or nine-game scheduling models is television revenue. Conference members currently play eight conference games. Increasing to nine games would not produce any additional revenue from the league’s new media rights deal with ESPN—another wrinkle in a months-old debate that has left the conference mostly split along revenue-generating lines.  [Emphasis added.]

What is it with SEC commissioners and their inability to negotiate broadcast contracts competently?

I would presume the deal can be revisited once Oklahoma and Texas join, which would explain why Oklahoma and Texas are joining.  Better luck next go ’round, Greg.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Tiptoeing into the new year

With the NFL expansion of its regular season schedule, this is a problem that’s only going to get more awkward for college football.

The Sugar Bowl has been moved off its usual primetime spot to noon ET on Dec. 31 to avoid a conflict with a Monday night NFL game.

… With Jan. 1, 2023, falling on Sunday, the games usually played on New Year’s Day were moved to Jan. 2, when the national holiday is observed. The move to Monday is common in college football to avoid conflicting with the NFL.

But ESPN found itself with a conflict that day: The NFL has scheduled the final Monday regular-season game for that night, which forced a relocation by the New Orleans-based Sugar Bowl on the schedule.  [Emphasis added.]

By the way, the CFP semifinals will be played on December 31, which should guarantee the Sugar Bowl minuscule ratings, relatively speaking.  But Mickey will be appeased, by Gawd.


Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Fewer windows?

Mandel was asked in his Mailbag ($$) if, in the wake of all the new media deals, we should expect any changes in how kickoff times are set.  Part of his answer might be of interest:

The six/12-day TV windows are a byproduct of most conferences having multiple network partners, which themselves are balancing deals with multiple leagues…

However, SEC fans are about to find out if there’s an advantage to having one company, ESPN, own 100 percent of their league’s inventory. When the parties announced their new deal (which begins with the 2024 season), Greg Sankey said, “I think more than half of our games we can set up (kickoff times) during the summer.” If it were this year, for example, the league could announce this week that the Oct. 1 LSU–Auburn game will be in prime time. Then the week of the game, after seeing how the teams start, ESPN would decide whether to put it on ABC, ESPN or the SEC Network.

That might be nice, although it’s ironic that once CBS gets the boot, the Cocktail Party might no longer have its convenient (if you’re tailgating there, that is) 3:30 automatic slot.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Eyes on the prize

This is something.

Seventy percent of the time?  Wowser.

The only thing I can’t figure out is why nobody in Montana watches ESPN.


Filed under Alabama, ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

Go home, FPI. You’re drunk.

I don’t care what anyone says.  Preseason or not, any computer with a projection that has Auburn — Auburn! — as the nation’s tenth best team needs to be stripped down completely and re-programmed.

That being said, if I’m forced to take FPI seriously, it’s worth noting that it only finds four teams with better than a 10% chance of making the playoffs.  Look for that fun stat to make a steady appearance in opinion columns about Why We Need CFP Expansion NOW! near you.

Even more interesting to me, though, is that Georgia, despite being in a much tougher conference and having to factor co-existence with Alabama into the equation, is seen as having a significantly better chance of making and winning the playoffs than does Clemson.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Today, in stirring up shit at Mickey’s House


McGee: Keeping in mind that “underperform” is a relative term, it’s hard to imagine that Georgia can replicate what it did in 2021. Big pieces are missing from that historically great defense and Stetson Bennett’s time as a folk hero among the fanbase seems to have lasted about a week. Will the Bulldogs win the SEC East? Probably. Will they win double-digit games and play in Atlanta in December? More than likely. Will that be enough? Not a chance. I just heard a click. I think Schlabach just unfriended me.


Schlabach: Who is going to beat Georgia during the regular season? Tennessee? Florida? The Bulldogs won’t be nearly as good as they were on defense last season, but Kirby Smart and his staff have recruited exceptionally well.

That works as a rebuttal, although I would have gone with “probably and more than likely are doing a shit ton of heavy lifting there”.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

To the victors go the spoils

When you’re the (defending?) national champs, your spring doesn’t get relegated to streaming services.

And, yes, before you ask,

All other SEC schools, including Alabama, will have their games streamed through SEC+ and ESPN+, the network announced. Georgia’s G-Day game last season was a streaming-only format.  [Emphasis added.]

Et tu, Mickey?  If only Metchie and Williams hadn’t gotten hurt…


Filed under Alabama, ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, SEC Football

ESPN and the Bennett narrative


This might shock some folks, but what about Georgia’s Stetson Bennett? He’s the returning starter for the defending national champions, ranked fourth nationally in pass efficiency and third in total QBR, and will lead an extremely talented offense under the same coordinator (Todd Monken). I realize why Bennett is so easily written off, but should he be?


I like the bold suggestion of Bennett, but I struggle to see him posting the kind of eye-popping numbers typically associated with a Heisman-winning quarterback.

Yeah, aside from that whole “fourth nationally in pass efficiency and third in total QBR” thing, what has Stetson Bennett done for us lately?

What isn’t typically associated with Heisman-winning quarterbacks is being former fourth-stringers.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

The latest adventures of doing it for the kids

Shockingly, even though cfb playoff expansion has been tabled, this hasn’t:

Hey, it doesn’t hurt to get your ducks in a row for something years down the road, especially if, in the meantime, it helps games stay inside ESPN’s pesky broadcast windows without cutting commercial time.  That’s a win-win for everybody!  Thanks, kids.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, The NCAA