As you all probably know, the negotiation window for the Big East conference with ESPN ends next Wednesday. The general consensus is "screw ESPN." Here is a rundown of each station for the Big East.
First though, a quick refresher on TV rights.
Tier 1- the big games. These are over the air broadcasts on the Big Boy Networks (CBS, FOX, etc.). The stuff that ESPN picks up for their national network.
Tier 2- games that are given to cable companies, like stuff on CBS Sports, NBC Sports, etc. The stuff that gets passed over by the OTA, but is available for less owned cable stations.
Tier 3- Anything that is passed over on by tiers 1 and 2. Stuff like a BIG Network, Longhorn Network, etc. For us, it's been ESPN3 or even WHAS. I believe you can chooses how to use third tier rights ( example- we declined ESPNs offer to play Friday night against FIU on national television in favor of playing on ESPN3 on a Saturday for recruiting)
ESPN- Here's the one everyone loves to hate. They continually throw the BE under the bus every time they can while on the air. They have turned 90% of the public against the conference. They are corrupt and are responsibe for even hiding criminal behavior.
Is ESPN good for Louisville? Well, for starters, networks will negotiate with ESPN freely. FOX, CBS, etc, will work with ESPN. We'll get to why this is important later on. ESPN is the only place that can give the conference a seat in the big time bowl lineup. They are the bad boys of the college football media. If we resign with them, the criticism should definitely ease up quite a bit.
But does anyone really want this though? You know, we were thinking this same thing with Notre Dame. "Make em join the Big East in football, or kick them to the curb." Until they left us for dead. Regardless, I am sick and tired of ESPN manipulating the college football world and would love for them to lose their stranglehold on the media.
FOX- Here's an interesting option. They currently own either 1st or 2nd tier rights to the Big 12 along with the third tier rights. They own rights to the PAC-12 as well. There's good and bad to that. One, they want more programming. Bad, they would only pick up third tier rights and we'd never be on the OTA Network. Exposure would be average. Definitely more of a supplement here. Don't forget about Gus Johnson being the network catalyst.
CBS- If I could ask eight pound, six ounce baby Jesus to give us a gift to a station, this would be it. It would be EPIC to get on the OTA network. That said, we'd normally be on CBS Sports and maybe an occasional appearence on CBS. If you put a gun to my head, this would be a supplement.
NBC- This one is very controversial. First, they would probably offer us the most money. Big plus. We would have a otty good chance at making appearances on their normal network. That would give us serious exposure. Doubt it would be a huge ratings draw, but NBC is desperate and it would be good for us. That said, a lot of games would be on NBC Sports. That would really suck. Also, no other major networks would negotiate with NBC. With ESPN, we can broaden our horizons to other networks. With NBC, it's all or nothing. What if we get a few games on the OTA on 330 and primetime and they flop? We'd have a lot of games on NBC Sports. Pretty sure they have a series on during primetime on Saturday that hauls in pretty darn good ratings. Plus, if we go NBC, ESPN releases the hounds and completely locks us out of the system. Risky play here.
Here would be a nice bonus: ESPN tries to devalue BEast even more, picks off Louisville and Cincinnati to go to the Big 12 or Louisville and UConn or Rutgers to go to the ACC. A guy can dream, right?
Turner- HERE is an interesting option. Pioneerin' it, bros. Marv Albert commentating Big East football games? Why not. We would have a lot of exposure on TBS and TNT. I actually kind of like this idea, they would probably pay us a lot, they aren't in the football business yet. Couldn't really tell you how it would work, but they've been mentioned.
Conclusion: You really have two options- Go ESPN or tell them to shove it and walk away.
Personally, I think that we get a deal done with ESPN for first tier combined with FOX or CBS for second and third tier (personal hunch says it would be FOX). It makes the most practical sense to have a chance to participate in the BCS Bowls and still haves quality TV coverage. We may be able to go on FOX Sports Network and maybe FX as well.
Now, it's your turn. Vote on the poll, I want to hear what you all have to say. Go Cards.