The biggest key for the Big East’s future is not whether Villanova joins. It’s how much more money the league can wrangle from its next TV contract.
As I’ve written here often before, the Big East has fallen far behind other BCS leagues in tv revenue, a situation that threatens to make it difficult for the conference to compete on equal footing going forward. That’s one reason the league has investigated starting its own Big East Network with Paul Tagliabue as an adviser.
According to the report, the Big East could be looking at somewhere between $110 and $130 million annually for all sports. Right now, the league gets an average of $36 million per year for all sports.
A new deal in that range would make the league more competitive but also would still be far short of other leagues. The ACC signed a deal last year with ESPN for about $155 million per year. Fox Sports recently concurred to televise Big 12 football games for $90 million per season (that’s football only, mind you, while the ACC and Big East deals we are speaking about include basketball, too). The Pac-12 is hoping for upwards of $200 million per season for its inclusive rights, and the Big Ten and SEC are in another financial stratosphere altogether.
The other interesting aspect of the story concerns whether all Big East members are on board with the future TV strategy.
ESPN’s offer has created a division among the conference’s schools. Some want to rebuff ESPN’s offer and take the conference’s media rights to the open market. The reason: The amount of potential bidders in the market has helped other leagues increase their media rights more than they initially expected.
Add this to the current disagreement among league members about Villanova football and there is real potential for some discord within the conference. The twin issues of expansion and media-rights negotiations are the first major challenges of commissioner John Marinatto’s reign, and how he handles these tricky waters will shape the future of the Big East.
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Submited at Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 at 1:00 pm on Uncategorized by admin
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