Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Renegotiations and scheduling

* Ron Higgins from the Memphis Commercial-Appeal had a wide ranging interview with SEC commissioner Mike Slive recently and the topic of television re-negotiations came up as the conference has discussed receiving more money now that Missouri and Texas A&M will be in the fold on July 1st.  Slive feels that the two additions have strengthened them in the area of television now that at least four decent size DMAs will tune to CBS and ESPN more often for SEC games (Houston, Kansas City, St. Louis & San Antonio), along with some border markets.

We know with 14 teams, there's more games available, so the question is when and how will these air on TV or will the SEC allow for some internet exclusives?

One fallacy, in my opinion, is that the SEC gained new TV markets.  In my opinion, they didn't, at least with the top tier games and most of the 3rd tier games.  Follow along:

  • CBS is national
  • ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU are national
  • The SEC Network games, at least last year, were shown in most of Texas and Missouri
  • Fox Sports' regional package of SEC games usually included both FSSouthwest and FSHouston.
  • Comcast's regional package was carried on their systems in the Houston area
The only places that there is a net gain is:
  • FSMidwest will likely carry the regional package full time, though they'll have to juggle who is on the "Plus" channel vs. who is on the main feed, along with moving around Big 12, Cardinals and Blues games.  
  • Cable systems in Missouri will have to pick up the Comcast regional cable games.
It will be interesting to see if the conference argues that A&M coverage on the Comcast package should be picked up state-wide.

But will the SEC get more money?  Sure.  ACC is rumored to have received around $1-2 million per school.  My thought is they'll get at least $3 million per school.  Depends if CBS can get another game window or two, or maybe if ESPN and CBS will have to coexist in a limited number of time slots.

* Sports Business Journal has been reporting on ESPN extending their deal with the Big 12 to sync up with the end of the contract that FOX signed with the conference last year.  One interesting note that came out Monday is that the ESPN deal is being structured so that FOX and ESPN will "share" rights to the conference, similar to the Pac-12.

If that is the case, it means one of two things:
  • FOX is willing to amend its deal, giving back some cable rights to the conference so that they can be purchased by ESPN.  ESPN is turn will leave some over-the-air football rights on the table that FOX can negotiate for.
  • FOX's deal remains intact and ESPN will sign up for roughly the same terms they have today.  FOX's deal already includes sublicensing for football games, so ESPN may have agreed to additional sublicensing in the area of over-the-air football games instead of paying FOX cash for the games.  ESPN already sublicenses in men's basketball as their deal with the Big 12 stipulates that a number of games/appearances must air on an over-the-air network that are not part of the syndication package.  
The other questions would revolve around ESPN's rights for men's basketball and FOX's rights in most other Big 12 sports.  FSN could take on a package of men's basketball games if they wanted to, but there isn't a really good argument to be made that ESPN should give up those games.

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