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Imagine an SEC schedule with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State
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AllTideUp Online
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Post: #27
RE: Imagine an SEC schedule with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State
I think it's a reasonable assumption at this point that ESPN will at least attempt to break the Big 12 apart in order to acquire content. The announcement by Disney and Iger's comments do seem to tip their hand a little bit.

There's a few ways I could see this going...

The SEC and ACC stand to benefit the most as ESPN "team members." ESPN will reap greater profits from their enlargement.

While the B1G seems to have thrown in with FOX, the PAC is still split pretty much right down the middle between the two major networks. This dynamic could inform our analysis of ESPN's strategy going forward.

1. I don't think it should be lost on us that FOX only started in earnest to delve into the American sports broadcasting market about 5 years ago. FS1 launched in August almost 4 years ago to the day. Point being, ESPN has known about this direct assault on their virtual monopoly for a while now, but it appears they might have taken a wait and see approach to assess exactly what sort of threat FOX posed.

FOX Sports has grown to some degree, but it hasn't been easy. In short, FOX has not established themselves as a true peer to ESPN. In fact, they just lost one of the cornerstone products...UEFA Champions League. It would appear that FOX's impact is somewhat limited despite some of the bizarre chest thumping you see from certain biased fan bases. Although FOX made a splash early on and their acquisition of the B1G T1 rights will certainly bolster their ratings, it doesn't appear as though they are in a position to truly compete with ESPN and by extension Disney at this time.

In fact, I would say FOX is much more of a peer with NBC, CBS, and Turner when it comes to their offerings as opposed to ESPN. In a way, the entrance of all of these media entities into dedicated sports broadcasting might have been a good thing for ESPN. FOX barely has time to be worried about ESPN when they're so busy fighting off the smaller networks nipping at their heels. There's just not enough prime content to go around and really the only area that FOX excels at is their regional system of networks. Point being, none of these entities are really well established and that gives ESPN a huge advantage.

2. I'm guessing here, but I think it's possible the PACN could be available for a cheap price. For one, the network doesn't generate that much revenue and still has carriage issues. Secondly, it would appear the PAC built the network in order to make an investment in a media company with eyes on selling it off one day. Well, that investment has an expiration date on it. Due to the advent of streaming, a linear network will never be more valuable than it is right now. In fact, the value has probably already declined given new technology.

I imagine ESPN wants to wholly own the PACN just as they wholly own everything else. It's possible the PAC is balking at this because they obviously like to maintain control and so they might view owning a large share in the PACN as a positive. If it's true though that the B1G is divesting from the BTN given its success then the PAC might want to get busy cashing in on their investment before it ends up losing money.

3. I've generally thrown around the idea as one of my nutso theories, but the more I think about it the more I could see ESPN wanting to own 3/4 of the Power conferences once the next realignment shakes out. While the PAC deal with FOX will last several more years, their network could be available as I said. What sort of move might encourage the PAC to sell and throw their future wholeheartedly in with ESPN?

The Big 12 is conveniently at the crossroads of the other major conferences. It's another motivation to get this deal done and move along. I'm speculating, but perhaps there is something going on behind the scenes with the PAC. If ESPN was only interested in unilaterally slicing up the Big 12 and placing the pieces in the SEC and ACC then that deal would probably have been done by now. There's really nothing that could stop that sort of endeavor unless another party was negotiating their way into the mix.

4. Now it's also possible that the reason for the delay has something to do with certain schools being interested in going to the B1G, but I kind of doubt it. Not that the B1G isn't desirable, but ultimately they have demographic issues and long term that could get even worse. There's also the fact that whoever the B1G desires will not be able to fully maximize their revenue and potential in that conference.

5. Disney's new approach to streaming, I believe, will revolutionize the market. While FOX is a rather large media company in their own right and there are certainly others, no one has the level of content that Disney has at their disposal and obviously I'm not just talking about ESPN although that's a big part of it.

So I think their new plan for streaming will end up defining sports broadcasting for the next generation. While other companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Apple are getting into the business; they will have some of the same problems that the larger networks have in that they aren't well-established. I think these companies will have success, but I doubt they end up acquiring prime rights to major sporting events anytime in the near future. Maybe one day, but it might take a long time.

Point being, not only can Disney create leverage over cable companies with their new services, but they can put the pinch on the PAC and the B1G should both of these leagues decide to side with FOX. As JR said, without ESPN on all the same cable packages, the appeal of the PAC and the B1G will diminish because FOX can't compete on content and therefore will not carry the same demand in the open market. More to the point, FOX can't use ESPN to buoy their ratings if ESPN pulls their content from standard cable packages. People will abandon FOX before they abandon ESPN.

Correct me if I'm wrong JR, but I think your primary point there was that ESPN would use these dynamics to get sub raises for all their networks rather than simply pulling content. So in the end, FOX stays relevant, but ESPN cashes in on the cable companies' weakness.

6. So what's my point in all this?

Obviously, I'm spitballing a lot here, but perhaps ESPN is in the process of cutting a deal with the PAC. The PAC is, after all, the primary college sports league for a large and growing portion of the country despite the fact the league is the least watched and least valuable.

By contrast, it does seem the B1G is divesting from the BTN, but I don't think their plan is to shift to ESPN. They did just give an unprecedented level of content to FOX after all. If the B1G divests from the BTN then FOX will still own it and they did just extend their contract for the network to the middle of the 2030s. I think the B1G will stick with FOX in the long run and try to become tentpole content for that network rather than being one of many in the ESPN family. Perhaps they'll get more exposure that way, not sure.

So anyway, it's hard to split the Big 12 among the SEC and ACC without doing some really strange geographical gymnastics. It's much easier to split the league among 3 suitors. Honesty, they need the content to make their network more relevant anyway. In addition, the PAC is the smallest of the leagues that are likely to survive. They need additional schools if for no more reason than to be able to host their own semi-finals. A true expansion of the playoff will not be complete unless the PAC is in on the action. I don't think this is a small reason either.

Let's say the networks expanded the CFP to 8 and got 4 additional national games. Now obviously, there are not 4 games more valuable that could be added to the college football season than that. That would be big bucks. The problem is that there could really only be 4 of them at most. I know JR suggested that the networks will make more money off of these additional CFP games than an expansion of the conference championship system, but let me suggest that might not actually be true.

If the SEC, ACC, PAC, and B1G all add semi-finals then that's 8 additional games of significant importance. Per game value, the addition of 4 to the CFP would be the way to go, but double that number and you might actually create a bigger pot with conference semis. Dedicate one entire Saturday to these big conference semis and you've got quite a day of watchability from regions all over the country.

Combine this dynamic with the one that garners the most attention for the CFP and that's the champs-only model. Of course, if you increase the number of games it takes to determine that conference champion then you've added more value and interest to the system.

How about this for an alignment?

SEC adds Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, and Iowa State

ACC adds Notre Dame, Cincinnati, West Virginia, and UConn

PAC adds Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, and UNLV

Baylor(toxic) and Kansas State are left out, but obviously given a home in the AAC probably with the likes of BYU and maybe others from the West.

This is assuming that ESPN buys the PACN and incorporates the PAC into the ESPN family.

You have ESPN controlling 3/4 of the major conferences, each from 3 distinct and growing regions of the country. You have ESPN also controlling 6 of the 8 conference semi-finals games as well as the CFP itself.

You have a much more reasonable division of the Big 12 and a quicker end to all the chaos of the last decade.
08-12-2017 08:32 PM
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RE: Imagine an SEC schedule with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State - AllTideUp - 08-12-2017 08:32 PM

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