SBD/Issue 62/Collegiate Sports

IMG Intercollegiate Forum: Panels Address College Sports Media

Turner Sports' Daniels (c), NCAA's Shaheen (c)
And CBS' Aresco (r) Talk March Madness Deal

The new $10.8B partnership between Turner Sports and CBS for rights to the NCAA men's basketball tournament was necessary if CBS, as the incumbent and a partner with the NCAA for nearly 30 years, expected to stay in that position. "The old CBS model wasn't going to prevail. We knew things had to change," said CBS Sports Exec VP/Programming Mike Aresco, who discussed the new arrangement with NCAA Senior VP/Division I Men’s Basketball & Business Strategies Greg Shaheen and Turner Sports Exec VP & COO Lenny Daniels yesterday at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum hosted by SBD/SBJ. "Loyalty and the experience CBS had over that time could not be ignored," Shaheen said. "There were certainly personal and professional relationships there that had to be considered." The presentation of the NCAA tournament will have a different look and feel than in the past, with each game being televised nationally on one of four networks: CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV. Each game will have the same graphics, music and similar camera locations to "present a unified look," Daniels said. Shaheen said one of the most scrutinized aspects of the deal was the discussion of games going on truTV, which used to be Court TV. "We spent a lot of time talking about truTV, who was watching the channel and our interest in being separated from some of the programming on truTV," Shaheen said. "There was some concern there."

Magnus Says College Sports Create
An Increasingly Competitive Marketplace

MOVIN' ON UP: The first day of the IAF wrapped up with a broader media panel, "The Changing Face of College Sports Media," featuring Dish Network Exec VP/Sales, Marketing & Programming Tom Cullen; Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti; Fox Sports Net President Randy Freer; ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus; and IMG Media Exec VP Barry Frank. College rights, especially in football, have long been undervalued, which is one of the reasons rights fees have skyrocketed in recent deals. Freer pointed out two other reasons for the growth in fees: a competitive marketplace and a more aggressive approach by the conferences. "We've been telling everyone for a long time that, despite the proclamations we have no competition, it is a very competitive marketplace," ESPN's Magnus said. "But there's also the fact that conferences are more willing to sell us rights that they've never been open to before. There's a much more comprehensive depth of rights available now and that contributes to the value." It's football, not the other sports, that's driving up the fees. "The upward mobility is provided by football," Frank said. "It just keeps getting stronger and stronger. Big brands like Florida can be up or down, Texas can be up or down, but the ratings hold their own." The panel also discussed at length the Big Ten Network and other conferences like the Pac-10 and Big East that are considering their own networks. As a distributor, Dish's Cullen is worried about where all of these channels are going to go. "We're the value provider in our industry and we're not afraid to NOT carry a channel. We don't have YES and that's been a very unpopular thing. We don't have the Mtn. We have to be selective. ... In the early days of this, we had more capacity than content. That's not the case anymore." As the Big East looks into its own network, "finding the right distribution partner has got to be the first step," Rutgers' Pernetti said. "If the Big East does this, it might be five years before we're making money, but there are no guarantees. If I've got to take less revenue next year ... no school can go backwards."

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