Tag:Fox Sports
Posted on: April 13, 2011 2:11 pm
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FoxSports to pay $90M per year for Big 12 rights

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

You might think that with the Big 12 having lost a major media draw in Nebraska, lost its football championship game as part of its shrinkage to 10 teams, and possibly seeing some broadcasts of its biggest attraction siphoned off to Texas's (competitor-owned) Longhorn Network, now wouldn't be the time for the league to be striking it rich on the television contract front.

You would think wrong. Per the Sports Business Daily, the league is ready to announce an annual increase in its cable broadcast rights fees of approximately $70 million to $90 million, a 350 percent raise over the current $20 million. The new buyer? Same as the old buyer, Fox Sports.

But Fox is getting something for its money, at least:
The deal would have FSN double the number of football games it is allowed to carry, from 20 to more than 40. Fox also is keeping all digital and mobile rights to those games, and it would retain cable exclusivity for all Big 12 contests. That means that ESPN will be able to show Big 12 games only if it buys them in syndication from Fox. It also gives Fox flexibility to carry games on its other cable channels.
It doesn't appear that the league's occasional ABC appearances will be affected. But given ESPN's now closer ties to the SEC and other leagues, it's not out of the question for new college football outlet FX to air more Big 12 games than ESPN.

That might not do as much for the league's exposure, but that may not be nearly as much a concern considering what Fox's offer will do for the league's bottom line. (And, of course, it's only speculation and the furthest thing from a certainty; until the contract is made public and the details on its week-to-week logistics made plain, how the league will continue to work with ESPN will remain a mystery.)

Commissioner Dan Beebe was roundly criticized during last year's realignment for claiming he'd be able to net the wounded conference the kind of TV money that would keep the league's heavy hitters safely in the fold, and -- more to the point -- the league solvent. Thanks to Fox's ever-increasing desire to become a major player in the world of college football, though, it appears it's Beebe having the last laugh.
Posted on: April 6, 2011 11:43 am
 

Pac-12 Network "a done deal"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When last we heard from the San-Jose Mercury-News's Jon Wilner on the state of the Pac-12's new television agreements, a "Pac-12 Network" was something the newly-expanded league definitely wanted (for Olympic sports coverage as much as the heightened football profile) but hadn't fully committed to.

According to Wilner today, though, that status has changed:
I’ve also been told by a source familiar with the league’s business model that a Pac-12 Network is more than a negotiating ploy on Scott’s part (which is what some analysts and college sports officials believe).

The network is a done deal and will be launched in Aug. ‘12, in conjunction with the league’s broadcast partner.

The emphasis here is Wilner's; clearly, it's information he's willing to stand behind.

But as he points out, starting up such a network is one thing. Turning it into the money machine the Big Ten Network has become is another. A protracted subscriber-fee battle between the league and Time Warner Cable, the dominant cable provider in California, could become an even more bitter version of the infamous standoff between the Big Ten and Comcast in 2008.

If that's the biggest headline from Wilner's story, there's several more juicy details included, all of which are good news for Pac-12 fans and its member schools:
  • Thanks to the huge sums paid out to the Big 12 (by Fox Sports) and Texas (by ESPN for the forthcoming Longhorn Network), the estimates for the Pac-12's new deal have been ratcheted upwards. Commissioner Larry Scott will reportedly be asking for "a more lucrative contract than the $205 million annual deal the SEC signed with CBS and ESPN three years ago." A deal with dollar figures anywhere near that ballpark would increase each school's annual television cut by millions.
  • Though ESPN and Turner Broadcasting could bid for the league rights, the finalists are expected to be Fox Sports and Comcast. The league has allowed Fox's exclusive negotiating window to expire, presumably in order to see what Comcast (or a third party) would be willing to pony up. L.A.-based Fox may still the favorite, though, with their recent loss of Laker rights to Time Warner fueling the need to provide USC and UCLA games to the Los Angeles market.
  • Once the national broadcast "platform" is in place, the league is expected to schedule weekly Thursday or Friday night football games.
Though little of this is set in stone, one thing is clear: the days of Pac-12 football (and basketball) being the hardest power-conference action to find on the dial will be over soon.
Posted on: November 18, 2010 5:23 am
 

Fox to televise Big Ten Championship through 2016

Posted by Adam Jacobi

With the Big Ten expanding to 12 teams next season and adding a championship game to its football schedule, the logistical challenges facing the conference as it plans its first football championship game ever have come into focus. Back in August, the conference announced that Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis would house the very first championship game, but made no plans past the first year. On Wednesday, the Big Ten made some considerably more stable plans for the television side of the title game, tabbing Fox Sports to carry the game for its first six iterations:

The Big Ten Conference has reached a media agreement with FOX Sports to serve as the official broadcast partner of the 2011-16 Big Ten Football Championship Games. The inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played in prime time on December 3, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with the winner earning the Big Ten Championship and a chance to play in the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.

This news isn't a total surprise, since Fox has been a 49% partner with the conference in the Big Ten Network, the hugely profitable television venture that has helped the conference earn more television revenue per school than any other conference, even the SEC; moreover, the disparity in revenue leaves conferences like the Big XII and Big East not only in the dust but in structural peril for that exact reason; the BXI successfully stole Nebraska from the Big XII and by all accounts could have had its choice of Big East teams if it had advanced any offers that way.

And yet, the last time a college football game has been televised on Fox itself*, it was January 5, 2010, and here's what the lingering vestige of that coverage ended up being:

That's Chris Myers asking an absolutely dippy question and getting an equally silly answer. Myers, like all Fox Sports personalities who covered BCS games that January, hadn't spent the entire season covering the teams or conferences in play (and neither did the rest of the announcers or producers, who instead spent the entire time staring at fans or trying to compare the games to other sports), so it's natural that he would ask Ricky Stanzi a for-the-sake-of-politeness "evergreen" question like that, but here's the thing: the vast majority of viewers still tuned in at that point had, in fact, spent the entire season watching Big Ten (or at the very least ACC) football. Myers' line of questioning was a dog whistle to a group of viewers (namely, those completely unfamiliar to Big Ten football) that had already tuned out of the game, basically, and that makes for bad television.

That's why it would be enormously smart of Fox and the Big Ten to appoint Big Ten Network staff to call the championship game rather than Joe Buck or whatever random announcer that's on the Fox payroll and hasn't been calling BXI games all season long. Familiarity's important, especially when the announcer's has to at least approximate the average viewer's, and one of the main complaints about Fox's coverage of BCS bowls over the years has been the fact that the announcers have basically a passing familiarity with the men on the field. The Big Ten can't really subject its tens of millions of fans to that grating superficiality for the next six years, can it?

*Fox's network of regional stations televises a LOT of college football games per week, of course, and is a prominent source of television revenue for the Big 12. Ask the Big 12 how well that's gone for them.


Posted on: November 18, 2010 5:23 am
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