By now you've seen that four conferences and two independents have elected to not play their intended fall sports as previously scheduled. For me, solely from an enjoyment standpoint, its sad. I understand the decisions they've taken and they are far beyond my need to be able to enjoy college football on TV or the remote possibility of viewing a game in person.
I'm interested in what happens with the TV revenue that these four conferences & a couple schools (so far) are forgoing. Would be interested in knowing the clauses triggered by not playing football by the end of the athletic year (it runs from July to June) & if that triggers rebates back to rightsholders. None of these conferences are paid solely for football, but that content is the reason TV networks are paying as much as they are.
I have my doubts that the TV contracts are tolled & automatically extended to an extra year. Would assume that Big Ten & Pac-12 would still be intending to go to the open market on the timeframes they intended based on contract terms. The Mountain West & MAC might be more willing to compromise on an extra year. They aren't in the same position as P5 & need some money to flow in. Maybe for a partial rights fee this year, they'd give an extra year & spread out the total rights fee of their contracts so there's less of a monetary hit.
Just taking the conferences & the TV partners involved:
- FOX Sports took a massive hit, losing out on north of 60 games from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West. They are only left with the Big 12 to show across their linear TV networks at this time.
- ESPN seems to be banking on the ACC, SEC and Big 12 keeping their schedules alive, plus their Group of Five content from the American and Sun Belt, plus whatever independent BYU can cobble together. I do wonder if they would fill more time across linear TV at the expense of their ESPN+ inventory from the two Group of Five conferences.
- I'm curious to know if the Big 12, ESPN and FOX would work together to prorate ESPN's maximum of 23 Big 12 games. You'll have 45 Big 12 games to divy up after each school retains their non-conference game to monetize. FOX Sports usually gets "the rest", but "the rest" typically isn't less than what ESPN takes.
- CBS Sports Network also took a body blow as the Mountain West is their highest profile conference, plus they have lost a large portion of Army's schedule and the cancelation of the four UConn games they intended to televise. They'll be capped at 9-12 C-USA regular season games, a few Navy games and whatever Army can schedule for home games.
And let's get away from the revenue discussion for a moment. Is it going to be "safe" to play a spring season & a fall season, whether it starts "on time" or later in September in 2021? I'm not just saying safe from a pandemic point of view, but a physicality one first. Can't dismiss the concepts around body recovery from a short season and then trying to play a second season. The Ivy League & Big Ten are joined together in concussion research. If the Ivy decides football shouldn't by played in the spring, I won't be surprised if the Big Ten makes that same decision in short order. Personally, I'm not banking on a spring football season from these conferences or any fall sports in the spring.
I'll be interested in your thoughts on the topics of these TV rights, whatever they are.