ACC Football: League Looks to Close Revenue Gap by Shopping Orange Bowl
Yesterday at Your Best 11, the rumor was that the ACC was going to keep holding the Orange Bowl's hand, as the happy couple planned on staying cozy for a while. So the cat is out of the bag; in a press release sent out today and posted by the fine folks over at College Football Talk, ACC commissioner John Swofford is looking forward to 12 seasons of happy hand-holding between the ACC and the Orange Bowl:
The Discover Orange Bowl has a rich history of prestige, is located within the league’s footprint and is a great destination for our student-athletes, alumni and fans. In addition to our continued partnership, we are very pleased to be playing annually on New Year’s Day.
That means stability. That means major bowl money. That means a lot for the ACC, as the league joins the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 in a select group of conferences with their champions tied to a bowl game. While people fret over this new system looking a lot like the old system, we have to give Swofford a quick pat on the back. Many counted out the ACC, bashed the league as falling by the wayside, but, as Chadd Scott jokes about Swofford:
"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated," John Swofford.
— Chadd Scott (@ChaddScott) July 3, 2012
The commissioner always finds a way. The league is sitting at the table with the big boys, ready to collect its checks. However, just inking the deal is not the kicker. Rather, it is the fine print that Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports references that will truly help the league give its teams ample relief in the form of cash money:
ACC confirms that league controls broadcast rights in new Orange Bowl deal.Plan to take to market. Huge game changer.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 3, 2012
While that is not nearly the sweetheart deal that the Big 12 and SEC have cooked up with the Champions Bowl, the deal has a lot of room to grow revenue in the conference. With the ACC owning the rights to the Orange Bowl, it is free to shop its product to the highest bidder and/or the most entertaining offer.
Certainly, ESPN—the network that owns the ACC's regular-season and conference-championship television rights—will be in the mix, but that is not all. NBC, FOX and CBS are all looking to expand their college-football holdings. CBS has the SEC on its channel and limited content to flesh out its CBS Sports Network. FOX has its regional coverage and is partnered with both the Big Ten and Pac-12 networks. NBC Sports owns the rights to Notre Dame and not much else when it comes to its NBC Sports Network.
In other words, let the bidding begin, as the networks all look to get eyeballs locked in on their platforms. Can ESPN win? Absolutely. However, Swofford has the conference breathing down his neck looking for more cash, and with the league taking home a whopping 50 percent of the revenue, according to ESPN's Joe Schad, maximizing payout is a must:
The ACC should be able to keep at least 50 pct of revenue after it shops the Orange Bowl TV rights
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) July 3, 2012
This is a big deal for the ACC, as a league, and it confirms that—like him or not—John Swofford is a man with a plan. How these television rights work and what they sell for is going to be a function of the product, as well as the competition. How much will ESPN pay to keep exclusive rights to the ACC? How much more are FOX, NBC or CBS willing to pay to get a marquee New Year's Day product on their airwaves?
One interesting thing to note here is Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are one of the most valuable individual properties in college football. A move to lock up the Irish through a conditional deal, granting them rights to the game in given years based upon an eight- or nine-win season, would help boost the television value for the ACC as a whole. How, and if, the Fighting Irish factor into this deal will be something to watch, as the ACC looks to max out its revenue from the bowl game.
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