NBC Sports Network has "verbally offered" the Big East $20-23M per year for six years to acquire the conference's media rights, according to sources cited by McMurphy & Katz of ESPN.com. Once the Big East receives a formal offer, it must give current rights-holder ESPN the "opportunity to match the deal." NBCSN's deal with the Big East would "include a 'bridge year' for basketball in 2013-14 and then would 'sync' the football and basketball deals together for another five to six seasons so they expire at the same time." Prior to the expiration of ESPN's exclusive window to renew its rights in November, the Big East had sought a deal of $300M per year from ESPN, "which would have been the largest in college athletics." A source said that ESPN "declined." NBCSN's current offer would earn each Big East member about $2M annually, "depending if the league has 11 or 12 members." The Big East's current six-year media rights deal is worth $3.12M annually for "each of the eight full members" and $1.5M annually for "each of the remaining non-football members." Meanwhile, sources said that the Catholic 7 basketball schools are "closing on a deal" with Fox Sports worth $30-40M per year "depending on how many teams are in the league" (ESPN.com, 2/9).
WHAT'S IN A NAME? ESPN.com's Andy Katz cited a source as saying that the remaining Big East schools "expect a legal battle with the departing schools for the Big East name, which carries with it branding rights and national recognition" (ESPN.com, 2/9). In Philadelphia, Mike Jensen wrote, "Big East football as a brand doesn't have much value anymore." The group of remaining schools in the conference "needs to get away from the punch lines." New branding "makes strategic sense" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/10).
Sports Illustrated said that it is “looking into how the coveted image of its annual Swimsuit Issue was leaked before it was to be revealed” tonight on CBS' “Late Show with David Letterman," according to Lucia Moses of ADWEEK. In an “apparent first for the magazine's franchise special issue," the blog Fashion Copious "leaked the cover image of Kate Upton” late Friday. Despite all the “hype that surrounds the Swimsuit cover reveal," a Time Inc. rep "batted away any suggestion that the leak will steal the magazine's thunder.” The issue hits newsstands tomorrow (ADWEEK.com, 2/10). Letterman “has had an exclusive deal with SI for six years now to be the first to show the cover.” There was “no word yesterday on whether the leak will cause any last-minute changes” (N.Y. POST, 2/11).
STRONG REVENUE: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Eric Fisher reports “resurgent print media sales are fueling growth" of SI’s Swimsuit franchise, which company execs are projecting at 6% to 8% this year. SI sold 102 ad pages for the '13 Swimsuit edition, "up 20 from last year and its largest total since 2008.” Time Sports Group President Mark Ford said, “We’re definitely seeing a real lift in print. It’s almost something of a return to a more traditional media mix.” This year’s edition “overall will contain 224 pages, up 13 from a year ago.” SI amid growth in the print Swimsuit business “continues to aggressively push the franchise into new areas” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/11 issue).
ROCKING THE WEAR: In N.Y., Tanzina Vega wrote this year’s Swimsuit issue “has a surprising new feature: a small style guide geared toward the issue’s legions of female readers.” The guide includes “six pages of content from Sports Illustrated and six pages of Target ads.” Titled “Secrets of Swimsuit,” the guide will include “information on swimsuit trends and advice on how mere mortals, not supermodels, can achieve that sexy beach look.” SI Swimsuit Editor M.J. Day said that the tips were “meant to help women recreate the looks they see in the issue” (NYTIMES.com, 2/10).
Padres Owner Ron Fowler said the team plans to meet with reps from Time Warner Cable in a "face-to-face meeting to see if we can get things resolved" regarding the carriage dispute between the cable company and FS San Diego. Fowler, speaking on XEPRS-AM's "The Darren Smith Show," said, "We allowed other people to try to handle it, but it didn’t get done. We want our fan base to be able to get the games on Time Warner. A significant number of our season-ticket holders are Time Warner subscribers, and we’re hoping that the meeting that we’re going to have with them in the next week will help accomplish that." Fowler said he believes TWC is being "disingenuous because when you’re paying billions of dollars to get the rights to the Dodgers … why won’t you accept the market rate to carry the Padres?" Fowler: "It just doesn’t make sense to me, but we’ll have an answer from the highest levels of Time Warner next week.”
KEEPING TEAM TOGETHER WAS PRIORITY: Fowler also touched on the team's quiet offseason in regards to player acquisitions. He said when the organization “looked at the team at the end of the last season, we made a conscious decision to keep the team intact, and we’ve done that.” He noted the franchise's first priority was keeping the current team together, then to "improve the team if we could what I call have a ‘price value’ situation out there." Fowler: "Personally, after talking to our baseball people, I think some of the values put on free agents were far higher than we thought they would be.” Padres Exec VP & GM Josh Byrnes “looked at a number of opportunities and made the decision that some of these things just didn’t make sense.” Noting that there is "going to be increased national media money coming” for the ‘14 season, Fowler said, "It looked like some teams wanted to spend it early.” He also denied the $800M sale price for the team has “inhibited” the team from being active in acquiring players. He stated if Byrnes “felt strongly we needed to make a move, … I would have made it. But he did not recommend moves” (“The Darren Smith Show,” XEPRS-AM, 2/8).