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August 26, 2008

SEC and ESPN TV Deal: The Reaction

As Blutarsky pointed out earlier, the total payout for the SEC Teams prior to this new deal was roughly $120 million per year. With $205 million in total TV payouts starting in 2009, we're talking about incremental $140-150 million more for the SEC's members per year. Or said differently. Damn.

(Image: Mike Slive is a badass)

Before you read anything else, read Tony Barnhart's take on the deal.

My Take on the Positives:
  • Full Coverage - Every SEC Football and Men's Basketball game will be available via some CBS or ESPN avenue starting 2009. Last season nine conference football games and 41 total games did not make it on the air.

  • ESPNU is moving to HD - To prepare for the deal in 2009, ESPNU is going High Definition (HD) this season.

  • Vested Interest - ESPN's interests are now aligned more tightly with the SEC's interests. In fact, the future of the ESPNU network is directly tied to the success of this partnership.

  • Near U - Tony Barnhart reports that ESPN and Comcast are in discussions to add ESPNU to as many as 14 million new homes in the coming months. The addition is rumored to be a part of basic cable packages. ESPNU is currently in 22 million homes primarily via DirectTV, Dish Network, Cox, Time Warner and others. The biggest provider that had not accepted ESPNU was Comcast.

  • More Night Football Games - The ESPNU games are not a replacement for the Raycom Sports 12:30 pm games. Instead, it appears that ESPNU will be a nightly prime time "game of the week" which will be selected after CBS, ESPN and ESPN2 games have been slotted. I don't have an exact on this, but I'd guess this gives the league at least 6-10 more total prime time night games.

  • Triple the basketball coverage - Self explanatory.

  • Better regional coverage - The old Raycom Sports TV structure was a syndication style deal. Raycom would call on individual stations or groups of TV stations like WB36 in Atlanta. They would contract with them to air the 12:30 pm SEC game of the week. ESPN Regional TV is not a "network" just like Raycom isn't a network. It's more like a paperwork entity that's charged with finding a home for SEC 12:30 pm games (and other SEC content) for the season. ESPN feels confident that they will get better/broader distribution than Raycom landed...particularly beyond the SEC's nine state region. Translation: If you live outside of the SEC footprint, this deal is a win for you. The quality and distribution of the 12:30 game should improve.

  • SEC TV Show - ESPNU will create and air a weekly SEC TV show. Imagine a mini / weekly version of SportsCenter for the league. (My analogy not ESPN's analogy)
The Negatives
  • Coverage - Will Comcast get the deal done with ESPN to expand the footprint of ESPNU...particularly for BASIC cable. The success of this venture is riding on ESPN's ability to do the deal with Comcast. The Big10 Network and the NFL Network both struggled to negotiate with Comcast on the issue of basic cable distribution. However, neither network has anywhere near the power of ESPN. They have 11 months to iron this out.
Here is some reaction from around the blogosphere and interwebs.PWD

12 comments:

Dante said...

I'm curious as to what this means for broadcast television. Are the games that were previously broadcast other than the CBS games going to end up on cable/satellite-only channels? Is the CBS Doubleheader still going to exist or does CBS only get one game now? I see games broadcast on ABC that are obviously ESPN broadcasts. Are those games going to be SEC games now in SEC markets?

I stopped paying for satellite about 5 years ago* and have been pretty happy with that decision. Better football coverage is the only thing I miss but I still get decent college and excellent NFL coverage with what I can pick up over the air. I'd hate to see that go away.

* One of the most fun sales conversations I ever had was calling up to cancel satellite. It was absolutely incomprehensible to the sales rep that I was just not paying for TV anymore. She was convinced until the end that I was just not telling her what other pay option I was switching to.

Paul Westerdawg said...

answers

CBS double header still exists twice per year.

ABC games are currently called "ESPN on ABC" No SEC *football* home games are slated for ABC.

In non-CBS double header weeks you'll see 1 game on CBS, 1 or 2 on ESPN/ESPN2, 1 on ESPNU and 1 on over the air syndicated non-cable channels (the types of stations that currently air Raycom games).

Anonymous said...

I'm loving it.

Dawg19 said...

No other network promotes it's shows like ESPN. They don't just promote their shows on the family of ESPN channels, they promote on MANY other cable channels. The "SEC on ESPN" will be advertised everywhere on your cable or satelite dial.

Also, when asked what their favorite TV show is, almost all recruits list Sportscenter as their #1. During Sportscenter is when ESPN promotes their shows (or upcoming games) THE MOST.

And...with all due respect to Mike Slive...when you've got the best coaches, the best football, the rowdiest and most loyal fans, great stadiums, and THE BEST looking women...it's a pretty easy sell.

The Big Ten et al never had a chance...

Anonymous said...

Call me a curmudgeon, but I feel a little bit like we have "gained the world, but lost our soul". ESPN gets two SEC Thursday night games. I don't care if South Carolina or Miss.St. or Florida or UT wants to play on Thursday, but it will really hit home in a bad way when that happens to us. You may think that we can refuse, but once you take their money, they own you.

That said, I always wonder if Tech regrets leaving the SEC. ;-)

NRBQ said...

Anybody heard anything about ESPNU and Knology?

Please say yes.

Baxter Sanford said...

I'm about to get rid of Comcast and switch to one of the dishes. I just can't take them anymore. Channels just seem to disappear overnight, without warning, and to get them back, cough up more money for the next tier. I just don't trust them. However, I will say that I will truly miss CSS and their nightly sports show and weekly replays of the most recent weekend SEC games. Hopefully, it will one day make the switch with me as well.

Hairy Dawg said...

Anon 10:27

I completely agree. THat's what I'm fearing. PWD, any word on whether they're going to puch for the SEC to have Thursday night games each week.

I'll be dammned if I'm gonna continue to cough up $5000. in donations + $tickets + $parking pass only to be told that one of my few home games is on a f#cking Thursday night! I've been a season ticket holder for more than 30 years, but that will be the straw that breaks the camel's back for me.

Paul Westerdawg said...

Ease up on the Thursday stuff guys.


The SEC has been putting two Thursday night games a year on TV for a long time. South Carolina, Mississippi State and Vandy love 'em.

Just look at this year. NC State at SC and South Carolina at Vandy.

It's nothing new. LSU at MSU, SC at MSU, UCF at SC, etc. These aren't new things.

Damon has said that we will never play an SEC Home Game on a Thursday as long as he's AD. And we CAN refuse this because there is logistically no possible way on earth that a UGA home game as it's currently structured can be supported from a traffic, safety, security, parking, etc standpoint on a Thursday while school is in session.

And school now starts before the season starts.

The only way UGA will ever play a Thursday game is if it's a Road Game....and more to the point....a non-conference road game.

BTW -- We played *at* GT on Thanksgiving in 1995. It's not like we've never done a Thursday road game before.

Hell...I'm THRILLED that we got a deal of this scope without committing to additional Thursday games! That's awesome.

PWD

Drew said...

As long as Kirk Herbstriet and Mark May aren't allowed to spew their verbal vomit each week on UGA...then I'm all for it.

Mitch said...

I will be pissed if we ever play on a thurday night. Let the lousivilles, south floridas...ect play on thurday. Real football is played on saturday.

Smitty said...

I just hope Pam Ward never does one of our games!!!

 
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