Credit Nunes Magician with doing some math (original post here - http://www.nunesmagician.com/2011/5/30/2197112/nbc-comcast-would-like-to-make-you-all-very-rich)
I want to take a few minutes to talk about what moving away from the massive, all-encompassing ESPN umbrella does to help grow the Big East brand beyond a few extra million dollars a year per school.
1.) Versus needs content.
Firstly, for anyone unaware, and for clarity sake, Comcast/NBC owns the Versus network.
Versus have had a Pac 10 deal in place, but with their new conference media deal, are left without a major player in college football with which to do business. And we're the last of the "big boys" to come to the table to negotiate. They've lost the Big 12, the Pac 10/12, and were never in the running for the ACC.
2.) Making a commitment to each other.
Let me pose this question: has the NHL suffered any more after being on NBC/Versus for the last 4 years than they would have had they been on ESPN? You know as a hockey fan in North America where to go for the NHL highlights and recaps are still handled on SportsCenter every day. But no other effort is put into the product. But, was any effort while the league was still with ESPN, put in by the network to help push the league to its viewers? Absolutely not.
The NHL walked away from ESPN for a partnership with people committed to them. Not just financially, but in terms of a actual relationship. They build on each other with cross promotions during other events that are more than "blah blah blah" at the bottom of the screen. Versus air very high quality post-game and wrap-up shows for the league.Its not like "ok the game is over, airing SportsCenter with baseball highlights in 3..2...1..."
3.) Big East football is like, the 19th most important thing to ESPN
Seriously. How long on a Saturday in October do we have to wait for highlights of our conference games, if we're even lucky enough to have them, on SportsCenter. NFL preview, baseball, SEC football, more baseball, Big 10 highlights, NASCAR, ACC and Big 12 football, golf, tennis, 8 minutes of Herbstriet talking about whoever is in the top 5, then MAYBE conference game scores.
Like the NHL, its not worth it to us. If all they want to do is broadcast the games and treat us like that because they're so financially over their heads with everyone else they do business with, its not worth staying there. Versus have a very light lineup. NHL, WEC, Indycar, and bull riding. After that, its all syndicated filler shows. So we aren't necessarily, even on the busiest of Saturdays, going to be overshadowed in the middle of the season on our own damn network.
We can carve out a nice home with a new partner.
We also have a product that very nicely can 100% belong to NBC/Versus without ever needing another network or local tv rights problems. Noon game on VS, 3:30 games on NBC and VS, and 7:00 game on VS. Shuffle it around a bit when Notre Dame are playing at home, but it still works out great for us. VS had a few Pac10 games on Thursday nights before, so that's not a hard switch to make. Bye weeks and stuff to consider, but there's enough room for us to all get on the same page. Suddenly, EVERY Big East conference game every team plays can be on national television. No more "region maps", or "its on HD here, but only on standard def here" bullshit that ESPN does now. Think about what that does for our exposure. And the confidence of our other schools. We have a home.
I'm just gonna leave this right here... because even at the best of times, basketball doesn't drive the bus (YOU HEAR ME PROVIDENCE!?!).
In summary, I think we've looked too much at the money available during these discussions the last few weeks. Yes, getting paid is nice. But starting anew with someone that isn't going to relegate us to 3rd world citizens and make us play on Friday nights is equally as important. If we can come out of this round of negotiations with Comcast and secure about $18.5m per school... that to me trumps $20m per from ESPN because the exposure rate is going to be better, and then, we can demand more the next time around.