Can NBC Save the Big East?

With the Naval Academy still slated to join the Big East in 2015 (as a football only member) it is important to keep abreast of what is happening to the embattled league. Though no one really has any idea what the composition of the league will be in two and a half years time, or if it will still exist for that matter, there is finally a deal on the table in regard to conference TV rights.

With the Naval Academy still slated to join the Big East in 2015 (as a football only member) it is important to keep abreast of what is happening to the embattled league. Though no one really has any idea what the composition of the league will be in two and a half years time, of if it will still exist for that matter, there is finally a deal on the table in regard to conference TV rights.

TV rights is of course a huge chunk of the money that drives college sports, specifically football and men's basketball. With the state of the Big East in so much flux it has been nigh on impossible for any kind of TV deal to be hammered out. In all honesty the conference has next to no bargaining power at this time as the legacy football programs and Catholic Seven are all about to jump ship. As a result innovation may just have to be the order of the day.

At first glance the deal looks terrible. NBC has come in and offered a package which would see the schools (at this point who knows how many) splitting around $20 million dollars a season. Assuming that the Big East retains at least ten teams that figure comes out to a miserly $2 million per school. Contrast that to the $20 million that the Pac-12 earns PER SCHOOL as part of the $3 billion mega deal which it currently holds with ESPN and FOX to see just how low the Big East's value is at this point.

The interesting part of this proposed deal however is in the small print. If the Big East were to be picked up by ESPN as some had suggested it would quite frankly be buried. With the money that the network pays to other conferences the Big East schools would be stuck playing in Wednesday night and Saturday 10am start slots which do nothing for the reputation of the league or the schools involved. Those slots are used for up and coming conferences like C-USA or the MAC to get air time and are not what Navy need to be a part of.

Instead, NBC want to use the new Big East as the primary product provider on the network's new cable channel which would include massive cross promotion on the main NBC channel. The deal would begin next year, allowing full advantage to be taken of the 18 current schools to build a base before defections begin and, most importantly, the deal would be for just six years including provisions for immediate renegotiation if the cross promotion is successful.

For those who remember the launch of ESPN in 1979 it is exactly the same strategy that was used then. The league would be an anchor for the new network and hopefully both would grow together into national prominence. Though obviously the sports landscape is far more saturated now than it was then this approach has a shot to work. Whether or not Navy will remain a part of the Big East as this master plan takes place only time will tell, but with how the conference has been run recently Navy fans should be pleased to know that there is any kind of plan at all.

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