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The Big 12 is on the verge of a blockbuster TV contract that will put its media revenue in the top tier of college conferences despite losing several marquee programs in the last two years. The Big 12 and ESPN are nearing an extension that will earn the conference -- combined with its Fox contract -- $2.5B over the next 13 years, according to industry sources. The ESPN extension would run through '25 and sync up with Fox’ deal. By network, the Big 12 stands to make $1.3B from ESPN and $1.2B from Fox over the life of the two deals. ESPN’s old contract with the Big 12 ran through '16, but the two sides are close on a nine-year extension that will increase the conference’s average revenue from its current $150M a year to nearly $200M annually. Each Big 12 school will make roughly $5M more a year in the new contract over the old deal. “We have an existing agreement with the Big 12 that has four years remaining,” said ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys. “We are in regular conversations with all our partners about future opportunities. There’s nothing beyond that.” The Big 12’s potential revenue windfall comes on the heels of mass upheaval for the conference, which has lost Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, while adding TCU from the Mountain West and West Virginia from the Big East to stay at 10 teams. Additionally, the new media revenue could effectively end any discussion of the Big 12 expanding back to 12 teams. Under the new terms, each Big 12 school will average just under $20M a year. Schools in the Pac-12, which also partnered with ESPN and Fox to generate its record $3B deal over 12 years, will average nearly $21M per school. It remains to be seen how the Big 12’s new contract will affect the ongoing negotiations between ESPN and two other league partners, the SEC and the ACC. Both conferences expanded to 14 schools, which makes them eligible to negotiate new terms.
ESPN averaged a 0.9 U.S. rating and 1.4 million viewers for its ’11-12 regular season (non-conference tournament) men’s college basketball games, flat compared to the net’s figures from ’10-11 and ‘09-10. Louisville topped all markets for the season with a 4.5 local rating, followed by Greensboro (3.5) and K.C. (2.8). ESPN2 averaged a 0.3 rating and 449,000 viewers for its games, flat in rating compared to last season, but viewers were up 7%. CBS finished with a 1.3 rating and 1.9 million viewers for its 30 games this season. That rating figure is flat compared to last season, but up from ’09-10, while viewership was down compared to 2.0 million viewers last season. NBC Sports Network aired seven Mountain West Conference games this season for the first time. The slate of Saturday 4:00pm ET games averaged 88,000 viewers.NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL REGULAR-SEASON RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP
NETGMSRAT.% +/-VIEWERS (000)% +/-'10-11 GMS CBS301.30.0%1,900-5.0%30 ESPN1300.90.0%1,4000.0%151 ESPN21840.30.0%4496.7%202 NBC Sports Network70.1n/a88n/an/a
TOP GAMES: The March 3 North Carolina-Duke matchup on ESPN marked the most-viewed game of the regular season with 4.2 million viewers and also marked the net’s most-viewed college basketball game in four years. The Carrier Classic from Nov. 11, which featured North Carolina-Michigan State, ranked second with 3.9 million viewers. The top five most-viewed games on ESPN this season also topped any college game which aired on CBS’ slate. The North Carolina-Kentucky matchup from Dec. 3 led all of CBS’ games with 3.1 million viewers, followed by the Ohio State-Michigan matchup on March 4. Listed below are the top five most-viewed games on ESPN and CBS from the '11-12 regular season.
TELECASTDATETIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) North Carolina-Duke3/36:54-9:07pm2.74,247 Carrier Classic:
North Carolina-Michigan State11/117:00-9:47pm2.43,859
Kentucky-Indiana12/105:24-7:34pm2.33,585 Duke-Ohio State11/299:37-11:35pm2.33,422 Duke-North Carolina2/89:14-11:18pm2.23,121 TELECASTDATETIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) North Carolina-Kentucky12/312:00-2:06pm2.03,070 Ohio State-Michigan State3/44:31-6:36pm2.03,065 Missouri-Kansas2/254:19-6:35pm1.92,939 Wisconsin-Ohio State2/264:19-6:09pm1.82,895 Indiana-Ohio State1/154:35-6:34pm1.92,881
FIRST FOUR: truTV averaged a 0.9 overnight Nielsen rating for two First Four games last night as part of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, down from a 1.0 overnight last year. Both the Western Kentucky-Mississippi Valley State and BYU-Iona matchups last night earned a 0.9 rating (6:30pm-12:00am). Last year’s first telecasts featured UNC-Asheville's defeat of Arkansas-Little Rock and Clemson-UAB.
Hawks F Tracy McGrady is “the latest athlete-turned-entrepreneur to launch his own online business -- in the form of a quasi-Groupon for sports,” according to Rip Empson of TECHCRUNCH.com. McGrady this week has launched “his own daily deals website, called TMacsDeals.com,” in partnership with Engager Media, a company that "specializes in social media management for influencers.” The website is available on “the Web and on Facebook, using both platforms to offer his fans discounts on his own merchandise as well as sports-related deals from Adidas (McGrady is sponsored by the apparel company), Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, Lids, and more.” Empson wrote while McGrady’s website is “by no means winning any design awards (and has clone material written all over it), or pushing the envelope technologically, it gets the job done, and, perhaps more importantly, it does so in a way that doesn’t stink of brand shilling.” The website features no sponsored ads. McGrady said, “I have been approached about doing sponsored ads on my social media sites, but I think that can come across as disingenuous. With TMacsDeals, I can provide a service to my fans by helping them save money on brands they actually use.” McGrady likely has a “built-in audience of young sports fans (especially on Facebook), so offering athletics-related deals makes sense.” McGrady’s following of over 1 million Facebook fans “currently puts him at 11th most among active players in the NBA” (TECHCRUNCH.com, 3/12).
Time.com is "launching its first sports blog, Keeping Score," in time for the NCAA men's basketball tournament, according to Emma Bazilian of ADWEEK. Articles will cover sports "around the world -- including the upcoming Olympics -- and their larger cultural, economic and political impact." The blog will include reporting from Time sports columnist Sean Gregory and other Time.com writers (ADWEEK.com, 3/13). Keeping Score's goal is to "tackle all the related controversies and issues." Time.com Managing Editor Catherine Sharick said, "The new blog will cover the areas that play out in the sports arena -- business, economics, culture, politics, health, and as we’ve seen with Tebowmania, religion” (MEDIABISTRO.com, 3/13).
ADWEEK's Emma Bazilian reported SI Golf Group is introducing a "new 'supervertical' called Sports Illustrated at the Majors that will give fans a way of experiencing the tournaments on multiple platforms." The April '12 Masters Preview issue of Golf Magazine is the publication’s "largest issue since July 2008, with pages up 15 percent year over year." But SI Golf Group is "putting most of its focus on a new set of experiential events that will take place during the four biggest U.S. tournaments: the Masters, U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Ryder Cup." Meanwhile, Condé Nast’s Golf Digest also has "big plans" for The Masters. The magazine is "releasing a special tablet-only 'First Impressions' issue, sponsored by AT&T, that will be free to subscribers or $1.99 for nonsubscribers." It will highlight "anecdotes from past participants ... and features an interactive tour of Augusta National that tracks every change the course has seen since the Masters began" (ADWEEK.com 3/12).
CHANGING PLACES: NBA TV will televise a two-hour "Trade Deadline Show" tomorrow at 2:00pm ET hosted by Vince Cellini, with David Aldridge and Dennis Scott providing analysis and Sekou Smith monitoring sociall media. The group will return on-air at 7:00pm, after the trade deadline, to discuss the trades. The two-hour "Trade Deadline Show" will be streamed live on NBA.com (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
BEHIND THE MIC: MLB.com’s Scott Merkin noted when White Sox C A.J. Pierzynski retires, he “certainly would like to move into a broadcasting role.” Pierzynski was part of Fox' pre- and postgame coverage for the '11 ALCS and World Series, earning "rave reviews for his candor and analysis.” Pierzynski said, "Fox was awesome and all the people there were great. They were very professional. They worked with me and taught me a lot. It was definitely something I would like the opportunity to do again” (MLB.com, 3/13).
WORD CHOICE: In Tampa, Tom Jones reports WDAE-AM morning host Dan Sileo is “no longer employed by the station” after referring to three African-American NFL players as "monkeys.'' Sileo's remark came Monday when he was “talking about the possibility of three free agents -- Cortland Finnegan, Vincent Jackson and Jonathan Vilma, all of whom are African-American -- joining the Bucs.” Sileo, who is white, said, "If they got those three monkeys, I'm good. I'm ready, man. I'm ready. I want those guys. Those guys are great players'' (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/14).