SBD/August 2, 2011/Media

Could Big East Boot Some Schools To Attract A Better TV Contract?

The Big East is "looking for a new television deal," and an industry exec indicated that the conference "might need to consider dropping a couple of non-football members that aren't in large media markets and/or in areas that already have other Big East schools," according to Lenn Robbins of the N.Y. POST. ESPN has an "exclusive, 60-day negotiating window beginning in September 2012 to strike a new deal with the league," and if the two parties "can't reach a deal, the Big East becomes a free agent." The conference held a dinner in Rhode Island Sunday night with execs from ESPN, Comcast, Fox, CBS and SportsNet N.Y. The TV industry exec said, "Television networks are going to want to know what they're getting before they sign on." Robbins notes it "seems unthinkable for such a move to take place in a league that once prided itself on camaraderie," but what if a "reconfiguration is the only way to guarantee a lucrative TV deal?" For example, Seton Hall, which "occupies the same television footprint as St. John's and Rutgers, could be at risk," while Marquette "also could be targeted" because of the size of the Milwaukee market. One Big East source said, "I can't see that ever happening. I think we'd split before that happens." But Robbins adds, "Of course, few could foresee the day when the Big East would turn down a $130 million, seven-year extension from ESPN, as it did earlier this year" (N.Y. POST, 8/2). In Newark, Tom Luicci reports reps from Fox and NBC were on hand today at the Big East football media day in Newport, R.I., "fueling speculation that one of those networks will wind up with the next Big East TV deal" (NJ.com, 8/2).
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