Thoughts on Big East TV deal

Commissioner Mike Aresco speaks at Rentschler Field in Connecticut in September. The Big East will soon have a new television deal. /Associated Press.

John F. Silver

The Big East television rights deal is going to be completed sometime in the next week, and according to Sports Business Journal, the Big East stands to have a deal for between $20-23 million dollars for football and basketball. The Big East, also according to SBJ, is negotiating with CBS for select games to the tune of $2-$4 million per year. That will bring the total deal to around $24-27 million and bet each school about $2 million per team.

Here’s the article on SBJ (warning, paywall). https://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2013/02/18/Media/Big-East.aspx

Now, that money is low, so low that it makes UConn non-competitive with its regional rivals, it has to have a pay off on the other side.

Here’s what the Big East is thinking and it appears it is at least trying to make some lemonade out of lemons.

Mark Blaudschon, former Boston Globe writer now blogging at ajerseyguy.com, with his thoughts on the deal and why ESPN likely won’t match it.

But the issue is not entirely about the money. ESPN can easily match or better NBC’s financial offer.

The sticking points are the other parts of the deal. Promotion, time slots, prime time exposure on the main network. All have value. All are part of the overall plan that Big East commissioner Mike Aresco and NBC have worked out.

NBC can give Big East football  a Thursday night Game of the Week–EVERY week.

Can ESPN do that?

The Big East is just trying to get on TV and get exposure. The money is a pittance, it really is, but what the Big East – -which claims it is going to keep the league name — wants more than anything is exposure and credibility.  NBC Sports desperately needs content and they have attractive time slots in primetime on NBC as well as NBC Sports. If UConn and Temple are Top 25 in hoops, I think we would then see that game maybe on CBS.

Big East commish Mike Aresco has a kind of poison pill in the contract that makes it impossible for ESPN to match the deal, even with the money being so low.  Naturally, ESPN has a right to match, but are they really going to put this Big East in primetime? Of course not.

So, as was explained to me, would the Big East rather be No. 1 on NBC — which has national distribution and is working to get its sports channel next to ESPN on the dial? Or be No. 6 on ESPN?

The Big East, if it has an attractive game, could easily have that go on NBC sports following Notre Dame on a Saturday, or if the Irish on in another game, even at 3:30 p.m. An example would be the Tennessee vs. UConn game that is scheduled for 2015 at Rentschler.  A Thursday night game, which helped save the Big East after the first ACC raid, will also be on tap and that’s a lot of exposure for the league.

Let’s look at this in a realistic sense. The No. 1 hope is UConn gets gobbled up by the expansion moving parts. That UConn is even in this position with its fundamentals actually defies logic, so as when former men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun says he thinks the Huskies won’t be in this position, it’s because logic would say the Huskies are the next to go (actually, they should have went before many of the others).

Now, short-term, the Huskies paramount need in the TV deal is to actually get on TV on good times. They is what the school needs. Long-term? It won’t be able to complete with what’s called the Power 5. Over the long term, a poor TV deal will chip away at the competitive aspects between Rutgers, Syracuse, Louisville, Boston College and UConn. As of right now, and the near future? The advantage isn’t gained just yet.

What’s the point of the Big East TV deal?

To get on TV. It’s baby steps at this time.




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