The college football bubble is growing. The sport is making more money now than ever before. For many people, they wonder how the cash continues to grow, almost with no end in sight.
The answer is pretty simple: College football sells. That's the basic answer. We've seen the NFL bully their way into cash and make service providers bend to their whims; college football has that same power. The same ability to sell across multiple marketplaces. The same ability to draw large audiences. The same ability to be a cash cow.
On the evolving television landscape, live sports, especially live football, are seeing their value increase at an amazing rate. Prime-time television is growing increasingly worthless. Viewers are checking out of live viewing of programs thanks to DVR, TiVo and "On Demand" services that networks offer. Throw in Hulu, Netflix and network-provided online avenues, and no one has to be home when their favorite program airs to stay current.
Thus, it stands to reason that advertisers are shifting their dollars around. No point in shelling out the megabucks ad campaign for a prime-time show that people are going to DVR and then fast-forward right through their commercials. Instead, keep that money to use on another advertising avenue.
Enter live sports.
Live sports are the only time where the bulk of viewers are captive. No DVR-ing. No fast-forwarding. Just an audience sitting down, watching the game and all of the commercials that come with it. Add to this the fact that the average sports viewer demographics are shifting; more women are watching sports than ever, and you have an advertiser's dream.
The massive dollars being thrown into the college football bubble are not new dollars or created dollars; rather, those dollars are money being reapportioned by advertisers. There is no more Seinfeld or Cheers or Martin or The Simpsons that people have to view live. Rather, there's sports, and in the world of sports, football is king.
So it is no wonder that the Big East is excited about the prospects for their new television contract. They've got a product that networks are dying to get. While you, Joe Fan, goes out of your way to make terribly tired Big East jokes, NBC is looking at their new network and their broadcast channel and hoping to find a way to squeeze more dollars out of it. Football is the best option to squeeze every penny out of an advertiser for your own channel.
Bryan Fischer over at CBS Sports talked with Chris Bevilacqua, head of the group the Big East hired to assist in getting them the best deal. Bevilacqua is quite blunt about the reasons behind their enthusiasm:
"Everybody has seen what's happened in the media business over the last 24 months with sports rights. Live, scarce sports rights are very valuable and getting more valuable by the day," Bevilacqua said. "On top of that, the Big East is the last college sports franchise into the market for a very long time. There's a very natural supply/demand equation here so they're in a very good position."
If you're a Big East fan, that ought to get you excited. You're in the catbird seat, and because of the evolution of television, this is a moment where the league can truly cash in. The market is ripe for the Big East to get paid, to close the gap and help their schools raise their money levels. The conference is NBC's last chance to get into the big-time college football marketplace. The folks at the Peacock are going to have to pay to get the content, and the Big East will most certainly be the beneficiary.