SBD/January 6, 2012/Media

ESPN Exec Denies Having Influence Over College Football Despite Ties To Conferences

Magnus said influence ESPN has is limited to mostly issues of scheduling
ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus said that the network “does not have unyielding influence over college football” although it has ties “in varying degrees to all six BCS automatic-qualifying conferences,” according to Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Magnus said, “Television plays a role, mostly on the scheduling side of things in terms of game times and which networks games appear on. The influence I would say we have is limited to mostly issues of scheduling in terms of this game goes in prime time or those go at 3:30 or is it on ABC or ESPN or ESPN2 or ESPNU. And that’s not unlike what other networks are doing.” But Hogan notes with many college football observers “looking to point blame for the current dysfunction and upheaval in sports, some finger ESPN as a culprit," claiming the net "has been a key behind-the-scenes player in the ongoing realignment in college sports.” Indiana Univ. School of Law Dean Gary Roberts said, “Television drives the system now. And ESPN happens to be a player in that. But the Fox Sports networks and the regional networks are all part of that.” Outgoing Southern Miss AD Richard Giannini agreed and said, “There is no question that TV is driving it. The SEC gets a new contract and gets more money than everybody, and all of a sudden here comes the Pac-10 and they get a little different configuration and they get more money.” LSU AD Joe Alleva said that the cable net “does wield a lot of power” but added that he “doesn’t believe ESPN has too much control.” Alleva: “They definitely control a lot. But I think they are fair. Overall, the value that they bring and the exposure they bring to college football really helps the game.” Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Wright Waters: “It’s easy to say that they have too much influence. But if you do away with that influence, then are you prepared to find an alternative funding source for those dollars?” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/6).

BOWL RATINGS: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted Monday’s Oregon-Wisconsin Rose Bowl telecast “had a rating of 34.8 in the Milwaukee market, which means about 315,800 local households watched at least a portion of the telecast.” The Milwaukee market delivered the highest rating for the game and was “16% higher than last season’s game between UW and TCU” (, 1/5)....The Champs Sports Bowl recorded a 3.6 Nielsen rating, marking a 64% increase over last year's bowl. The rating was also the third-highest of all bowls played before Dec. 31 (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/5).
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