Brian Cook looks at my recent post about ESPN’s future in an unbundled world, takes an inferred point from my post and makes it quite specific:
ESPN is currently subsidized by a lot of people who do not care about sports. When the internet is television, that goes away—and it does not necessarily get replaced one for one.
This is why adding Maryland and especially Rutgers was folly. In the near future the only people who get the Big Ten Network are going to be people interested in the Big Ten. They will no longer be able to snatch a dollar from the pocket of every cable subscriber in New Jersey who is a Tulane man. This is going to happen in ten years, at which point whatever short-term revenue gain will be spent, Jim Delany will have his bonus, and the Big Ten will be stuck with a couple of teams nobody cares about.
It’s not just the Big Ten, and it’s not just being stuck with the aftermath of making questionable expansion decisions. Every P5 conference is guilty of the latter and the Pac-12 is even more heavily invested in its broadcast network than Delany’s conference is. What do these guys prepare for when their business model is blown to the skies?
Judging from their track record, we won’t find out the answer to that question until it’s already happened.