BCS: Fox Sports Loses Its Edge and ESPN Steps In

Michael CollinsAnalyst INovember 12, 2008

    Fox Sports lost its 30 day exclusive negotiations window for the new four year BCS contract, beginning 2010.  BCS Commissioners and ND Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick,  had been in negotiations with Fox, beginning the first week of October.  

    ESPN/ABC, who lost the current contract to Fox, immediately swooped in and upped the bidding.  Fox had reportedly offered $100 million per year.  ESPN is offering $125 million per year – a $500 million contract.  Fox has until next week to respond.  Insiders consider it unlikely that Fox will match the bid to broadcast the National Championship game and the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls. 

    Last spring, BCS Commissioners were hoping for a huge windfall with a possible new contract up to a $1 billion.  The BCS expected such an increase not only due to fan appeal but also to a 50% increase in a new rights deal.  In an economic downturn with advertisers scaling back, the reality may be half that.  ESPN is considered more immune to economic changes in advertising since its revenue is more stable due to being cable-based.  In August, ESPN signed a 15 year deal with the SEC for $2.25 billion. 

   One byproduct of an ESPN/ABC BCS contract would be that all BCS bowls would be  broadcast by the same corporation.  In the past, Disney – ESPN/ABC’s parent company – the Big 10 and the Pac 10 opposed any type of college football playoff.  Would Disney make the financial adjustments in the Rose Bowl contract to facilitate a playoff for the national championship?  We can only speculate on the potential for such a popular and possibly lucrative move.  We could truly call this The Bowl Cartel Series.  ESPN is now viewed in 92% of all American households.      

More articles: 

"BCS seeks big jump from Fox"http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/60463

"Economic storm dampens BCS hopes for rights-fee jackpot" http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/60280

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