SBD/Issue 41/Sports Media

BCS Considering ESPN Proposal That Would Put Games On Cable

The BCS is considering a proposal from ESPN that would see all BCS bowl games, including the championship game, wind up on ESPN, sources familiar with the negotiations are saying. If the BCS ultimately accepts the bid, it would mark the first time all games in a major championship were not available on an over-the-air broadcast network. If the BCS opts to move to ESPN, it would continue a trend that has seen other leagues migrate playoff series exclusively from broadcast to cable. MLB, the NBA and the NHL all have placed playoff games on cable over the past few years. If ABC/ESPN ultimately wins the bid and moves even one BCS game to ESPN, it would trigger a clause in its Rose Bowl contract that would allow it to immediately take the annual game in Pasadena from its home of 21 years on ABC to the cable channel. Sources say Fox still has several days to accept the BCS’ proposal, which is seeking about a 50% annual increase over the current deal’s $82.5M annual fee. The BCS is looking for a 4-year, $500M deal, which would put the average annual payout at around $125M. Fox has proposed a 25% increase, which would average a little more than $102M per year. Though Fox still has several days to match, insiders say it is not likely to increase its bid by enough.

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