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Tag:ESPN
Posted on: February 27, 2012 12:17 pm
 

Two high-profile TV consultants considered by BCS

The BCS is interested in bringing in two high-profile television consultants as they move to the next level of reconfiguring college football’s postseason beginning in 2014.

CBSSports.com has learned that respected industry consultant Chuck Gerber is expected to be consulting with the BCS. Sports Business Journal reported separately on Monday that Gerber and Dean Jordan of Wasserman Media Group “were finalizing negotiations” to work with the BCS

Bringing in TV consultants is the next step in the reshaping of that postseason. The moves would suggest the BCS commissioners are ready to begin pricing postseason models. CBSSports.com reported last week that a four-team plus-one could be worth as much as $500 million per season in the new contract. The current ESPN contract pays the BCS $125 million per year through the 2013 season (2014 bowls). The BCS distributed approximately $180 million to its members in 2011.

Both men are considered at, or near, the top of the profession. Gerber was hired four years ago by the SEC as a consultant after working at ESPN for 15 years. His work helped land the conference a 15-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and CBS. The deal was finalized in July 2009. Jordan most recently worked with Conference USA and the Mountain West on the merging of those conferences beginning in 2013.

Sports Business Journal reported that Gerber is currently an independent consultant. Per its website Wasserman Media Group is a “sports and entertainment marketing company with expertise in, among other areas, media rights. The company has six worldwide offices including (in the U.S.) Raleigh, N.C. New York, Los Angeles and Carlsbad, Calif.

While the commissioners could stay with the current model, but it is widely assumed that the postseason will be expanded in 2014. Three plus-one models appear to be most attractive:

--Semifinals on campus sites with the championship game at a neutral site. This model is now supported by both Jim Delany of the Big Ten and Larry Scott of the Pac-12.

 --The entire plus-one played at neutral sites. In both cases those sites would be bid out. Likely interested cities would include Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit and Indianapolis.

--A plus-one within the bowl system. Current BCS bowls – perhaps with additions – would rotate semifinals and championship games.

The games are expected to be played after Dec. 21 with the championship game to be played as close to Jan. 1 as possible. Last week’s BCS meetings in Dallas did not include TV consultants. 

Posted on: February 22, 2012 4:10 pm
 

Plus-one revenue could be double current deal

DALLAS – The bullet points posted for BCS commissioners in a Grand Hyatt conference room Wednesday aren’t anything you haven’t seen or read before.

When considering reshaping college football’s postseason, the commissioners were reminded they must …

Improve the game of college football … enhance the experience for the student-athlete … Make it acceptable to the public.

Those are some of the playing rules. Those BCS commissioners left their latest meeting here having moved the ball only a few yards in what amounts to only a postseason scrimmage at this point. While they seem to have settled on no more than a four-team postseason model beginning in 2014, some of the issues are becoming clearer.

Revenue: CBSSports.com learned Wednesday that early projections are that a plus-one could be worth as much as double compared to the current BCS. That would be approximately $360 million based on 2011 distribution of $180 million.

But that’s without knowing if games would be played on campus, in the bowls or bid out to cities like the Super Bowl. The general assumption is that the money would be huge. I reported earlier in the week that a seeded, four-team plus-one could be worth $250 million-$500 million per year.

Access points: The idea of only conference winners being eligible is still on the table, mostly because it hasn’t been discussed to any broad degree. The idea has the interest of at least one commissioner.

In 10 of the 14 years the BCS has been in existence, at least one team that did not earn its conference’s BCS automatic berth ended ranked in the top four. If only conference winners were allowed in a plus-one in 2011, No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Stanford would not have been eligible.

Rose Bowl: The 800-pound tournament float in the room. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is determined to keep the tradition and history of the Rose Bowl in a new postseason. Remember, the Rose, Big Ten and Pac-10 had to be dragged into joining the BCS. In essence, college football would not be at this point in history had not the bowl and its partners reluctantly agreed to open its bowl to the BCS.

That probably means it would not want to be part of a national semifinal. (It would, in theory, stay in a championship game rotation.) But Rose Bowl officials are concerned they may have no choice.

While Delany has been adamant about keeping the Rose-Big Ten-Pac-12 connection, it was interesting to hear Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott on Wednesday. I asked him if he could ever envision the Rose Bowl game being a national semifinal.

“I’m not going to comment on hypotheticals,” he said.

Hmmm.

The exam thing: The commissioners don’t want to play these games until after a general exam period that runs to Dec. 21. They want the season to end as close to Jan. 1 as possible. Using that window, here’s how a plus-one might look in 2014, the first year it could be played:

The weekend of Friday, Dec. 26 is a good place to start for the semifinals. Yes, that’s the day after Christmas, but teams have played on Thanksgiving for years. And Nick Saban isn’t going to fly Alabama in the night before the game just so his players can open their presents at home. It’s something we’re going to have to live with.

That leaves the championship game for Friday, Jan. 2 or Monday, Jan. 4, 2014. We’re assuming that the NFL would have dates tied up on Saturday and Sunday. College football bowls traditionally stay as far away as possible from going head-to-head with the NFL.

Ranking the teams: Another assumption -- the current system would stay in place with a plus-one – coaches poll, Harris poll, computers.

But Delany said even that subject has barely been discussed.

“Too early. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking about rankings …,” he said. “If there is a way to improve the poll that’s great. It’s been a pretty phenomenal kind of mechanism for building interest.”

 “The level of understanding is modest in the sense that we have no idea what the marketplace would say, what the bowls would say, what the television people would say,” he added. “We’re just trying to understand conceptually what the pieces are. It will take months to test those kinds of options and ideas with presidents and athletic directors.

“It’s at the very beginning.”  

The commissioners next meet here March 26. The annual BCS meeting is April 24-26 in Hollywood, Fla. The discussion could last late into the year. ESPN has an exclusive negotiating window for the new postseason model in the fall. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:39 pm
 

Big East-to-West moves forward sluggishly

When the ACC raided the Big East once again in September, the stated intention of the fractured league was to remain a BCS conference. Or whatever the definition of a big time conference was going to be in 2014.

That’s the year when everything changes. College football’s postseason is going to be adjusted, making it less about what league you’re in and more about what your league is worth. Right now, the reconstituted Big East is attempting to rebuild its worth before increasing it.

And that’s the tragedy that overshadowed this week’s announcement that Memphis was joining the league in 2013. A few months ago Big East turned down a massive $1 billion offer from ESPN, hoping for something better. Sounds laughable now, doesn’t it? Memphis is in the league for the same reason West Virginia is suing to get out of it.

"The Big East and its Commissioner failed to take proactive measures to maintain, let alone enhance, the level of competition for the Big East football schools,” West Virginia’s lawsuit against the Big East reads.

Remember, this is a football discussion. While Big East basketball remains powerful, it is the economics of TV that football still drives these contracts. By far. Then throw in the fact that college basketball on television is becoming oversaturated. Football is going to have to carry the new Big East when formal negotiations begin later this year.

Things have changed a lot in six months. Commissioner John Marinatto has gambled and won in the sense that is league is still a league. He has lost in that a TV windfall along the lines of $1 billion look less likely. That was the amount ESPN offered last year (for nine years) to broadcast the Big East.

That was before the ACC struck and West Virginia left. Since then, Marinatto’s league has been reduced to selling the Big East brand to the likes of San Diego State more than selling Big East football.  Memphis is marginally better off, I suppose, than in Conference USA. Still, the jokes about Boise State being in the Big East West Division haven’t died down. It’s a great week for Memphis but in the end the school was nothing more than a live body willing fill out the lineup.

And that lineup for 2013 looks more like Conference USA. In about 2005. In fact, the projected 2013 Big East roster includes seven former Conference USA schools.

Back in the mid-2000s the Conference USA football deal was worth about $9 million per year. The current Big East deal, due to run out in 2014, is worth about $35 million per year for what in 2011 was eight teams.

That’s after the league turned down that $1 billion offer last year. Think an average of $111 million per year would have kept the 21-year old football conference together? It certainly would have kept the Big East on ESPN which all that matters these days as conferences morph into content farms for TV. Now there is speculation that the Worldwide Leader, upset at being rejected, could lowball the Big East  when its deal expires after 2013-14. Or drop out all together.

One industry analyst texted me saying the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC alone  will worth more than a new Big East deal in 2014. The Sports Business Journal reported Monday that the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse will mean a $1 million-$2 million bump per year for ACC members. In a matter of a whirlwind few months, the Big East’s hopes for a lucrative TV contract now rest with Boise State, Connecticut, Houston and Rutgers.

Those are the four most attractive Big East schools to TV, according to the analyst.

CBS Sports Network may be interested in the new Big East-to-West Conference. The same goes for the NBC/Comcast. Its new NBC Sports Network needs programming. But don’t expect a bidding war. That’s what has driven up the price of college football in the past decade – the public’s insatiable desire for more of it. But even during that gold rush there has been a clear dividing line – thank you, BCS – between the haves and have nots.

The Big East-to-West TV carrier(s) may pay a lot more than $35 million, but it/they won’t overpay. The point is not to lose money on a diminished football league, especially with the Big 12 out there for grabs in 2015.

No matter what the outcome, the Big East is going to be something like the sixth-richest conference, just like it was in the last round of negotiations.  The same market forces still apply. The Big East has been in the BCS only because of a waiver granted in 2007. The latest BCS contract expires in a couple of years, coincidentally at about the same time as the Big East’s TV contract.

Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese always said there should be a major college football presence in the Northeast. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore. Not in one conference. The league always claimed New York in its TV footprint. But with Syracuse leaving and San Diego, Boise, Houston and Memphis coming in, how much longer can Big East football be a big presence in the <>East<> much less nationwide?

 

Posted on: January 25, 2012 1:20 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 3:16 pm
 

Big 12 will release 2012 schedule by Feb. 1

Expect a Big 12 football schedule for 2012 by next Wednesday.

Contracts with partners ESPN/ABC and Fox mandate that a schedule be released by Feb. 1 according to a league spokesman. That suggests there will be some finality in a process that has been up in the air since West Virginia was welcomed into the conference on Nov. 4.

“That’s the deadline [Feb. 1] we’re working off of,” the Big 12’s Bob Burda said Wednesday morning.

While there could be shifting of dates for TV purposes after that date, the schedule – with or without West Virginia – would probably be released publicly at the same time, “given where we are on the calendar and the sensitivity of people wanting to plan,” Burda said.

He added that the league had schedule contingencies both ways with West Virginia in or out of the Big 12. A Rhode Island judge has directed West Virginia and the Big East into non-binding mediation to resolve their lawsuits. The two sides have sued each other over a Big East bylaw that requires 27 months’ notice before leaving the league. West Virginia wants to join the Big 12 in 2012. The Big East bylaw would keep it in that conference through the 2013-14 school year.

Asked Tuesday when a 2012 schedule for his conference might be released, Big East commissioner John Marinatto said: "I’m really not going to give up a comment on that at this time."

Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has long said it has received assurances from the school that West Virginia will be in for the 2012 football season. Earlier Monday, he told a Lubbock, Texas radio station that the 2012 football schedule would be out by Feb. 1.

If West Virginia is not in for 2012, that would put the Big 12 at nine teams and likely trigger network contract language regarding payouts if membership falls below 10 teams. Additionally, the nine teams would be put in a scheduling bind having to find an extra non-conference game at a late date.

Putting the current schedule delay in perspective: The base schedule for the 2011 season was completed in September or October 2010.  After adjustments by networks and schools, it wasn’t out publicly until March and April 2011. The Big 12 has lost four teams since June 2010 (Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M, Missouri). It has added TCU and West Virginia beyond the 2011 season.

The SEC and Pac-12 have already announced their 2012 schedules, both between late December and early January. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 15, 2012 12:47 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 1:04 pm
 

CUSA, MWC could "dissolve," form new league

One option being considered Sunday by two conferences' CEOs is to "dissolve" Conference USA and the Mountain West before forming a new league, CBSSports.com learned.

The move could have ramifications on current TV deals and put the new "Big Country" -- let's call it -- in line ahead of the Big East for a new TV rights deal. Dissolving both leagues could conceivably alter current TV deals in place with the MWC and CUSA and make the Big Country a new entity to be bid on by TV rightsholders.

The Big East is attempting to survive by realigning prior to the end of its current TV deal in 2013-14. The Big East and Big Ten (after 2014-15) are next in line to cash in with rightsholders. In figures obtained by CBSSports.com, a 12-team Big East configured for debut in 2013, would be significantly ahead of a merged CUSA/MWC in terms of average BCS computer ranking.

A year ago, Conference USA signed a $43 mlllion deal with Fox to broadcast a mininmum of 20 football games per year including the league's title game through the 2015 season. At the time ESPN protested saying it believed it had the right of first refusal on such a deal with Conference USA.

CBSSports.com reported Thursday that the two leagues' presidents would meet Sunday in Dallas to discuss forming a new league. Beginning in 2013 the "Big Country" would have 17 teams. There has been discussion whether to stay at that number or possibly add a team or teams. The new league could be football only, all sports or some other consolidation. 

With the assumed end of automatic qualifying conferences in the BCS, the rush is on to simply become as attractive as possible to TV rightsholders. One of the advantages of a combined MWC/CUSA league is strength in numbers. Seventeen (or more) schools would fortify the new league against departures if it was raided in the future.

A 17-team league (at least) would be the largest conference in FBS (formally Division I-A). That would mean a lot of inventory for a rightholder(s) with teams in 14 states extending over five time zones.  

According to a source, the five current non-automatic qualifying conferences distribute BCS money based on a performance-based ranking system. Half of the money received from the BCS is split evenly among the five. The other half is split based on the ranking. For the first time in six years, the Mountain West was not the leader of those five (MWC, CUSA, MAC, Sun Belt, WAC). CUSA was No. 1 in 2011.

Previously, the Mountain West had applied for a waiver to the BCS presidents that would allow it to temporarily become a BCS conference in 2012 and 2013. MWC commissioner Craig Thompson told CBSSports.com last week, "I'm not overly optimistic."

According to the figures mentioned above, the average computer ranking for the projected 17 "Big Country" schools in 2011 was 86.18. That ranges from a high of 21.83 for Southern Miss and a low of 117.33 for New Mexico. The Big East average of 53.8 ranges from a high of 10.67 for Boise State to 89.5 for Central Florida.

The figures are based on this 12-team Big East projection:

Boise State
Central Florida
Cincinnati
Connecticut
Houston
Louisville
Navy
San Diego State
SMU
South Florida
Rutgers
Temple 

Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:31 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 2:43 pm
 

Don't expect Plus One anytime soon

NEW ORLEANS – Judging from early returns on the BCS reformation front, don’t get your hopes up about even a modest college football playoff.

The BCS commissioners will meet here Tuesday for the first time formally this year in what promises to be a historic 2012. Changes are expected to the BCS after the current four-year contract expires after the 2014 bowls (2013 season). Because of television contracts, the commissioners must come forward this year with what roundly assumed to be a new postseason model.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive went on record last week as saying there will be major changes in college football’s postseason.

“Not just tweaks,” Slive added.

That was major news from one of the game’s power brokers who was previously on the fence about the issue. Since then, Slive has gone underground not speaking to media about the subject. BCS executive director Bill Hancock said Monday that, “Whatever we do, we have to protect the regular season.”

That begs the question whether a much-discussed Plus One (four-team playoff) would intrude on the regular season. That’s code for the sport’s attendance and TV ratings, both of which are at all-time highs lately.

“The truest thing that’s been said is the preservation of the regular season,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN’s senior vice president, college sports programming. “Obviously we fully subscribe to that as well. The money that flows to the conferences for regular season rights really underpins the enterprise a lot of ways. To us, it’s critically important.”


That led one source close to the process to say he expects “business as usual” in the BCS after the 11 commissioners and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick get closer to the process during the annual BCS meetings in late April.

“A lot of sports will kill for the problems college football has, from a media standpoint,” Magnus added, speaking at the Football Writers Association of America annual breakfast meeting. 

Hancock stressed that, “tomorrow is just the beginning. Everything is on the table.”

It is almost a certainty that automatic qualifying status is gone after the current deal. That has one of the BCS’ biggest hang-ups. The champions of the six major conferences (ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big East, Pac12, Big Ten) awarded a BCS bowl. The ACC and Big East have particularly underperformed during the history of the BCS.

What form the sport’s postseason will take in 2014 is up for much debate:

--One solution could be a so-called, unseeded Plus One. The top two teams would be selected after the major bowls to play for the national championships. Those teams would be selected by BCS standings, a human committee or both.
That raises the question whether the Rose Bowl would want to participate. The bowl and its partners (Pac-12, Big Ten) prefer not to be in anything that would resemble a national playoff.

--A four-team Plus One is a possibility but it wouldn’t work this year. It would include two teams (Alabama, Stanford) that didn’t win their conferences. Meanwhile, Pac-12 champion, Oregon, would be left out.

--Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has proposed the bowls get out of conference partnerships (except for the Rose Bowl) and the sport merely stages a 1 vs. 2 game each season.

--Within those two proposals is the possibility that bowls themselves may bid on getting those games. There is already a perception that the Cotton Bowl may join the BCS championship rotation in the next contract.

--The Mountain West is on record proposing a full-on 16-team playoff. That probably won’t happen but hasn’t stopped commissioner Craig Thompson from trying.

“There’s got to be a better system,” Thompson said.

Hancock said the process could last until June.

“The start of the second quarter will happen here tomorrow,” he said. “There’s no leader in the clubhouse.”

After New Orleans, the commissioners next meet in February in Dallas.

In other news:

--The issue of whether the Mountain West gains automatic qualifying status for the next two seasons will not be addressed anytime soon. Thompson said too many of the 12 BCS Presidential Oversight Committee are out of pocket to vote on the matter.

The Mountain West is asking for a waiver to be included in the BCS on a temporary basis in the last two years of the current rotation in 2012 and 2013. The conference has attained some of the benchmarks set for BCS inclusion, but not all. The Mountain West would need nine of 12 votes.

“I’m not overly optimistic,” Thompson said.

--Virginia Tech president Charles Steeger has formally replaced Graham Spanier as chairman of that oversight committee. Spanier left Penn State late last year amid the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 9:46 am
 

Delany makes postseason proposal

The source of one college football postseason idea pitched this week shouldn’t be surprising.

According to a person in the room at Monday’s BCS meeting, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany pitched a model whereby only the No. 1 and No. 2 teams would be matched in the postseason. That would basically eliminate the other BCS bowl tie-ins in the 14-year-old system.

The proposal essentially is a roll back to the old Bowl Alliance that was in effect from 1995-97. On its face, the proposal seemingly benefits the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 the most.

The Big Ten could not immediately confirm Delany as the source of the idea since the commissioner was traveling on Friday. However, another source in the room at the San Francisco meeting said the idea stood out among several that day because it was “new.” The source would not confirm the model came from Delany.

Using Delany’s idea, the relationship with the current BCS bowls – Orange, Fiesta, Sugar and Rose – would end. At the beginning of the season all schools would have an equal chance to get into the championship game. Supposedly, some kind of rating system would be used to rank teams.

Below that championship game, schools and bowls would be free to arrange their own deals. In the old Bowl Alliance, the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Eight, SEC and Southwest conferences, along with an at-large team, were matched in the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls. The Rose, Big Ten and Pac-10 did not participate at the time.  The uniqueness of the Alliance was that there were no conference tie-ins to particular bowls.

BCS commissioners began saying in December that they might go back to the old bowl system if pushed by non-BCS schools.  

There were other ideas Monday during what was termed a preliminary meeting meant for informal proposals. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson weighed in. Thompson was already on record with his 16-team playoff proposal. CBSSports.com reported last week there was growing support to get rid of automatic qualifiers in the BCS. One result of that could be a top 10, 12, or 14 ranking that would have to be attained to get into a BCS bowl.

Delany’s idea would reflect the elimination of automatic qualifiers. The so-called “AQs” are the champions of the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and SEC. Notre Dame and champions of lesser conferences can currently qualifier for BCS bowls if they meet a set of benchmarks.

Delany’s particular model doesn’t address an age-old BCS problem: What about No. 3 and below, the teams that get left out? The commissioners discussed legal concerns that could emerge from that situation according to a source.

Also, if automatic qualifiers are eliminated, it would seem there would have to be some kind of access for non-AQs. Teams from non-BCS leagues – MAC, WAC, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mountain West – have enjoyed improved access to BCS bowls since 2003. During that time the success of schools such as Boise State, Utah and TCU developed into David-vs.-Goliath stories that captured the nation’s attention.

There is also the significant issue of revenue distribution. 

It’s a good bet that under Delany’s plan, the Rose Bowl would be “protected”. In other words, the bowl would have access to the champions of the Big Ten and Pac-12 each year unless one or both schools were involved in the championship game.

Because the ACC and Big East have struggled to be nationally relevant in recent years, Delany’s proposal would directly benefit the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten and Big 12. Teams from those four conferences have played in some combination in the last eight BCS title games.

It can’t be stressed enough the preliminary nature of Monday’s meeting. After discussing various models at the 1 ½-hour meeting, commissioners were to go back to their conferences to present them with their schools.  One source called it “process and procedure.”

The commissioners meet again in person Jan. 10 in New Orleans, the day after the BCS title game. It is at that meeting and subsequent ones that a clearer view of college football’s postseason going forward will begin to emerge. The commissioners must develop a postseason model to present to ESPN during its exclusive negotiating window that begins in October. If ESPN passes during those negotiations, then the model would go out to bid.

The current BCS model is in effect through the 2014 bowls. 

Posted on: November 5, 2011 7:04 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 7:16 pm
 

SEC will reopen contract with ESPN

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The SEC will exercise one of its options to adjust the current ESPN contract with the conference, commissioner Mike Slive told CBSSports.com

The conference is expected to ask for an increase in the rights fees on the current 15-year, $3 billion deal after the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri. CBSSports.com confirmed a Saturday report that Missouri would become the SEC's 14th team after A&M joined in September.

In addition, there has long been industry speculation that the SEC would bundle some non-conference football games as a foundation for a separate network.

At intervals during such contracts, conferences are allowed periodic “look ins” to address issues such as these when they expand. Typically in these cases, the parties negotiate a rights fee increase. If they can’t come to an agreement the issue goes to arbitration. These situations have seldom, if ever, gone to arbitration according to several industry sources.

“We will look in,” Slive said adding that the issue likely will be addressed after the current season.

Currently, SEC schools are allowed to show one non-conference football game per year on a pay-per-view basis, according to Slive. None of the schools do so, however. Bundling 14 non-conference games – one for each team – and forming a network around the programming could create another windfall stream of revenue for the SEC.

An SEC network would be a separate entity along the lines of the Longhorn or Big Ten networks. It is thought that ESPN would have first crack at creating that network

The SEC, ESPN and CBS are two years into that 15-year deal.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: CBS, ESPN, SEC
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com