The Big 12 Friday formally announced its new media rights deals, six months after the conference reached an agreement on the broad terms of the deals. ESPN and Fox Sports agreed to pay $2.6B over 13 years ($200M per year) for a broad swath of media rights. Each Big 12 school will average around $20M a year. By comparison, schools in the Pac-12, which also partnered with ESPN and Fox, will average nearly $21M per school. ESPN and Fox will share the Big 12's football rights, and ESPN will control its basketball rights, starting with the '12-13 season. Overall, at least 25 Big 12 football games will be available on a national TV platform (ABC, ESPN, Fox or FX). As part of the deal, ESPN will have rights to up to 23 football games. Fox will pick up the rights to at least six football games for its broadcast channel. Big 12 schools can retain rights to one home football game and four men's basketball games. The deal runs through the '24-25 season (Ourand & Smith, SportsBusiness Journal).
THIRSTY FOR THURSDAY: In Birmingham, Jon Solomon wondered whether there could be "more Thursday games for the SEC" on ESPN. The conference's contract with ESPN "requires two Thursday night games each season, although that doesn't always happen." Stadium locations, parking concerns and "disruption to classes and fans are reasons some SEC schools avoid Thursday nights." There is some "incentive for the SEC, which has been in talks with ESPN to create an SEC channel." SEC consultant Larry Templeton said, "I would hope that we have a conversation, which we haven't yet, that everybody plays a game on Thursday night during the (next scheduling) cycle." Templeton added that the league is "trying to put together a four- or five-year cycle with actual playing dates and a rotation for opponents through 2024 or 2025." Templeton: "It could become a highly-viewed (TV) window, particularly in an exclusive window." Solomon noted the conference is "eyeing the Thanksgiving time slot in the future on ESPN to replace Texas-Texas A&M, which got scrapped when the Aggies left the Big 12." The annual LSU-Texas A&M matchup has "surfaced publicly as one possibility" (AL.com, 9/6).
NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus, speaking at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in N.Y. on Thursday, said that NBC “broke even” on the London Games, according to Anthony Crupi of ADWEEK. Lazarus said, “From a financial point of view the Games, on a discrete basis, were a break-even proposition for us.” He added the outcome was “far healthier…than we had planned on going in.” Crupi noted NBC “approached the 17-day extravaganza anticipating a $200 million net loss.” The net “booked north of $1 billion in ad inventory, atop which it sprinkled nearly $300 million in affiliate and digital revenue” (ADWEEK.com, 9/6).
TV’S IMPACT: The inaugural Bloomberg Sports Business Summit focused heavily on the mushrooming realm of national and regional TV rights, and its ripple effects throughout the sports industry, particularly on franchise values and merger-and-acquisition markets. But many panelists believed the recent historic run of TV rights increases cannot continue indefinitely, even as live sports continues to grow in importance compared to most other programming. Clarion Capital Managing Partner Marc Utay, whose company bid on the Cubs and Dodgers, said, “Cable operators may soon have trouble passing these costs on to the consumer.” InterMedia Partners Managing Dir Leo Hindery said, "It's that assumption of perpetual ups in traditional media that's a fallacy. It can't be proven to be true." The session drew more than 200 people, and panelists included four league commissioners, Lazarus, Fox Sports Media Group co-President & co-COO Randy Freer, and IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne, among many others.
HOOPS DREAMS: Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner David Stern said at least 10 cities have expressed interest to him in hosting an NBA team and more than a dozen high-net-worth investors are seeking teams. Stern said, "I'm not looking at a lot of (franchise) movement, but I am looking at a lot of price increases simply because when someone offers you a very high price for your assets, you have to decide whether you're in it to pass it on to your family, or if it's an asset that you may love but may not love enough to turn down a very high offer" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
Ozzie and Daniel Silna, owners of the defunct ABA franchise Spirits of St. Louis, are seeking to “tap into the money the league gets from international broadcasts, NBA TV, the league’s cable network, and other lucrative deals that could not have been imagined in the three network television universe of 1976,” according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. That year, the Silna brothers “agreed to be paid a small fraction of the NBA’s television money to comfort them for being cut out” of the ABA-NBA merger. Lawyers for the Silnas and the NBA in Manhattan federal court on Thursday “argued over whether the men are owed money beyond what they get from the NBA’s national broadcast and cable television contracts.” If District Court Judge Loretta Preska agrees with the Silnas, they “stand to receive millions more, all without having assembled a team or used an arena for more than three decades.” Sandomir writes the Silnas' deal was “an underappreciated wrinkle” in the merger, and their “haul has been substantial" -- $255M and counting. In ‘80-81, the first season the Silnas were "eligible to get their share" court documents reveal they received $521,749, and for the '10-11 season, they received $17.45M. Preska gave the NBA “more time to make its case and urged both sides to settle.” But her comments “seemed to indicate that she was inclined to side with the Silnas, two brothers who might be the savviest owners the NBA never had” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/7). NBA attorney Jeffrey Mishkin said according to the agreement, "You get network television revenues -- and that's all you get." He added the NBA "has never not met its obligation.” The Silnas' attorney Michael Carroll countered that “wording in the settlement referring to revenue from ‘all broadcasts’ should be interpreted to include more modern TV offerings like NBA League Pass, which allows viewers to see out-of-market games” (AP, 9/6).
ABC’s Alabama-Michigan finished with a 4.8 rating and 7.9 million viewers last Saturday, leading the way among college football’s opening weekend. That figure is up from a 4.6 rating and 7.8 million viewers for the comparable LSU-Oregon matchup last year. Meanwhile, ESPN earned a 2.7 U.S. rating and 4.2 million viewers for the Boise State-Michigan State game last Friday night, marking the net’s third best audience for a Friday night game on record, behind only a doubleheader on Thanksgiving weekend in ’10. The net’s season-opening South Carolina-Vanderbilt game on Aug. 30 earned a 2.6 rating and 4.1 million viewers, marking the second-best opening audience ever for the net, behind only the Arizona-Georgia Tech game in ’94. Additionally, ESPNU averaged 1.5 million viewers for the Tennessee-N.C. State matchup last Friday, marking the net’s most-viewed college football game ever (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
BANK ON IT: NBC earned a 3.3 final rating and 4.8 million viewers for the final round of the PGA Tour Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday, which saw Rory McIlroy win the event. Tiger Woods finished third. Those figures mark the highest-rated and most-viewed FedExCup Playoff round in five years, dating back to the Deutsche Bank final round in ’07, when Woods battled Phil Mickelson. Monday’s telecast was also the second-best round among all four FedExCup Playoff events since the format began in ’07. Meanwhile, Golf Channel’s coverage of the second round marked the highest-rated and most-viewed early round for the Deutsche Bank Championship ever (dating back to ’03). It was also the second-best audience for a FedExCup Playoff event round ever (NBC).
NOTES: NBC Sports Network averaged 247,000 viewers for the Izod IndyCar Series Baltimore Grand Prix last Sunday, down 58% from 591,000 viewers for the inaugural event last year....NBCSN also averaged 40,000 viewers for “Costas Tonight” on Aug. 29, which featured an interview with “Paterno” author Joe Posnanski (Karp).
The charts below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings. Select figures for Fox and CBS were unavailable at presstime.
NCAA Football: Alabama-Michigan
PGA Tour: FedExCup Playoffs: Deutsche Bank Championship:
PGA Tour: FedExCup Playoffs: Deutsche Bank Championship:
ESPN's Chris Berman has signed a multiyear deal to stay with the net. He will continue in his myriad roles, including as the host of "Sunday NFL Countdown," "Monday Night Countdown," the NFL Draft, the MLB Home Run Derby and the U.S. Open. Berman's extenstion will officially begin in '13. He joined the net in October '79, one month after it launched (ESPN).
SEEING, AND HEARING, RED: YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski reported free agent F Brian Scalabrine "has agreed to broadcast 11 early season Boston Celtics games for Comcast Sports New England on what he called 'a trial run.'" Scalabrine will do color analysis on "three preseason and eight regular season Celtics games, as well as some studio work, through January" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/6). In Boston, Chad Finn notes the games Scalabrine calls will be "most likely on road trips when Tommy Heinsohn does not travel." Sources confirmed that he is an "addition rather than a replacement," with Heinsohn and analyst Donny Marshall "continuing in their current roles." Scalabrine earned "good marks for his work as a guest analyst during pregame and postgame programming on CSNNE last spring" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/7).
BACK BEHIND THE MIC: MLB Rangers announcer Dave Barnett, who has been "off the air since ... rambling comments during a June game" will call two Univ. of North Texas football games this season, including Saturday's game against Texas Southern. Rangers Exec VP/Communications John Blake said that Barnett, a UNT alum, "informed the club about the UNT commitment and the baseball team has no issues with it" (AP, 9/5).
THE MEXICAN CONNECTION: Comcast-owned Spanish-language network Telemundo followed through on a promise to remain a player for Mexican league soccer Thursday, landing multi-platform U.S. rights to Club León, a historically popular team that was promoted to the first division for '12-13. The acquisition comes six weeks after Telemundo competitor Univision swept in to secure all-platform rights to popular Liga Mx soccer club Chivas de la Guadalajara beginning next year. Earlier this year, four other clubs -- Monterrey, Toluca, Tigres and Puma -- moved from Telemundo to Univision (Bill King, SportsBusiness Journal).