SBD/Issue 49/Sports Industrialists

This Week's Newsmakers: ESPN's BCS Rights A Boost For The Net

THE DAILY each Friday offers our take on the performances over the past week of people and entities in sports business. Here are this week’s newsmakers:

BCS Deal Boosts ESPN's Already Thorough
College Football Coverage, May Set New Trend
WIN: COLLEGE FOOTBALL ON ESPN -- The Worldwide Leader's already comprehensive college football coverage is set to get a big boost as the net lures the BCS away from Fox. The move makes sense for both sides, as the vast array of college football content already on ESPN offers endless cross-promotion opportunities. Moving forward, the deal seems likely to have implications beyond just ESPN, as observers speculate other properties could follow suit in moving to cable, despite the slight drop in viewership. In the end, ESPN's deep pockets and the promise of a dual revenue stream are too impressive to ignore, and JOHN SWOFFORD admits ESPN's bid represents a "substantive difference" over the current contract.

LOSE: MARK CUBAN -- Only a short time ago, the boisterous Mavericks owner reportedly possessed the highest outstanding offer for the Cubs and undoubtedly had emerged as the fan favorite among North Siders to seize control of the club from SAM ZELL. But shocking insider-trading charges levied by the SEC leave Cuban and his Windy City dreams in a state of tremendous doubt. While many see the accusations as the final straw for MLB owners trying to keep Cuban out of baseball, reports circulate that the validity in Cuban’s bid had come and gone long before Monday’s news. Also, the loquacious owner may have to answer to DAVID STERN, and it’s fair to say the two do not always see eye to eye.

DRAW: JIMMIE JOHNSON -- The driver of Hendrick Motorsports' No. 48 Chevy is in the midst of one of the greatest championship runs in NASCAR history, and Sports Illustrated on this week’s cover proclaims Johnson is “Tom Brady In A Firesuit.” Yet despite winning his third consecutive Sprint Cup championship last Sunday, many say Johnson's marketability is unlikely to suprass that of some of his more outspoken peers, as the driver has been called "vanilla," "robotic" and even the “Roger Federer of NASCAR.” But while his Q score may not stack up with other elite athletes, few can match his “cool” factor behind the wheel. And that's something many on NASCAR's senior circuit would gladly trade their endorsements for.

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