Friday, November 4, 2011

Big East, Incoming Members and TV

With the Big East in flux and an upcoming football TV negotiation, let's assume they bring in all six members they intend to (Air Force, Boise St., Houston, Navy, SMU, UCF) for football.  Some of negotiating points for contracts that would start with the 2014 season are:

1) Membership size - Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia would be out, but the new configuration would be eleven members.  Not enough for a football championship game.  Someone else needs to be added to do one.  Could be BYU, Temple, Army or someone not mentioned or stay at eleven and maximize the number of weeks and games they can schedule for television.

2) Possible partners - ESPN might be more favorable to the new members.  All of these new members have had games with CBS Sports Network which has only about 60% of the draw of ESPNU, its direct competitor.  Boise St. made a name for itself on Friday nights on ESPN and ESPN2.  Pockets of UCF fans along with existing members don't seem to mind either and a 2nd AQ conference, the Pac-12, will be a regular fixture on Friday nights on ESPN/ESPN2 as their new contract starts.  Further, possible 12th football member BYU had a very public spat with Comcast over the MWC television contract and was an catalyst for their move to football independence and the WCC.  The flexibility of their ESPN deal, particularly the replay rights and BYUtv, might easily be folded into a new Big East football TV deal.

On the other hand, Army & Navy have preferences for Saturday afternoon kickoffs and joining the Big East could mean losing those television opportunities.  Comcast is the cable provider in several areas where the Big East football and all sports membership call home and may sway some members.

I wouldn't expect FOX to be anywhere near this.  Turner could be a dark horse.

3) Notre Dame - No, this isn't about whether they need to be a football member of this conference.  They don't.  They never will.  Don't even bother.

But they know NBC.  May not know everyone in place now that Comcast is running much of the ship over at NBC Sports, but they did make a deal to have their home hockey games on NBC Sports Network as they move to Hockey East. They'll likely have a football game each season on NBCSN through the end of their TV deal.  They might speak on behalf of Comcast for others who have doubts.

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