Let’s just come out say it. Jim Delany is a genius when it comes to handling the Big 10′s media rights. More than 10 years ago, his vision led to the Big Ten Network. Now he’s managed to secure a deal with Fox that could be worth up $250 Million a year for 6 years for just half of the Big 10′s media rights that were up for grabs. Well respected College Football writer @DanWolken details how Delany one-upped his nearest competitor the SEC and the rest of the Power 5.
And the best part? If it’s a six-year deal, as Ourand reported, the Big Ten’s media rights will come up for bid again (and maybe again prior to that) before ESPN’s 20-year agreement with the SEC expires in 2034.
That’s astronomical money and will further widen the gap between the Big Ten, the SEC (which distributed $31.2 million per school last year) and everyone else. For all the talk about the Power 5 conferences, it’s a really a Power 2
Heck I’m prepared to call it the Power 1 when it comes to rights revenue. I doubt Big 10 gets $250 Million for the second half of their rights, but who knows. This is an ACCcentric blog though, and we want to know what this means for the ACC.
First of all ESPN needs to be a better partner here to the ACC. The Pac 12, Big 10, and Big 12 all have their rights split to a varying degree with Fox, conference networks, and other third-tier TV deals.
Unless the ESPN wishes to show Roller Derby again, it is running out of collegiate content to show. Even if they make a deal with the Big 10 to gain the other half of the media rights, judging from the Big 10′s initial Fox agreement here, it’s only going to be a short term deal. The Big 10 rights are up for bidding again. People may be cutting the cord, but they will be watching their sports someway, and ESPN could lose just about all rights to show Big 10 sports. It could happen. SEC Football is big, but it isn’t that big and it won’t sustain ESPN if they are struggling for content in a few years when the ACC contract ends. Certainly the ill-fated Longhorn Network isn’t going to help ESPN’s bottom line much either.
ESPN must look at the ACC as the valuable conference it is and significantly increase the payout to the ACC for their TV rights either in a yearly increase or a network.
In addition as an ESPN property it is time ESPN improves exposure of ACC sports. When there is more SEC Women’s Softball games on ESPNU and ESPN2 than ACC Baseball then that’s a problem I would say for the ACC.
When the Clemson Tigers spring game, a team than finished #2 in the country is relegated to ESPN3 that’s a problem. Mississippi State was on ESPNU. Yes SEC Football is better than ACC Football, but I’m not sure about the Bulldogs getting better coverage than the Tigers.
5-7 Missouri had one after 6 PM Saturday conference starts on ESPN and ESPN2 last year. Clemson had zero, and Florida State had just two, as we include ABC as well.
Obviously ACC Basketball as the nation’s #1 conference, should dominate ESPN’s coverage. During conference tourney week that was the case, but I heard enough about LSU’s Ben Simmons to last a lifetime. Astonishing that a team that didn’t make the NCAAs had 1 more (7-6) 6 PM or later conference starts on ESPN/ESPN2 as top 10 ranked Virginia.
ESPN was out maneuvered by Fox and lost significant portions of Big 12, Big 10, and Pac 12 sports in recent years. It’s time ESPN rewarded the ACC for it’s long term commitment to the network, it’s improved performance athletically, and the fact ESPN can’t afford to lose another property down the road.