ESPN Retains Big East TV Rights

ESPN's overall domination of the national sporting landscape continued over the weekend as the Bristol, Connecticut based organization opted to match the best deal out there and retain rights to the Big East Conference. This of course means that from 2015 onward Navy football will be broadcast on the "Worldwide Leader" but there is a nagging feeling that this is far from the ideal situation.

ESPN's overall domination of the national sporting landscape continued over the weekend as the Bristol, Connecticut based organization opted to match the best deal out there and retain rights to the Big East Conference. This of course means that from 2015 onward Navy football will be broadcast on "the Woldwide Leader" but there is a nagging feeling that this is far from the ideal situation.

When NBC offered its TV contract a week ago it was met with intrigue. Though the overall dollar amount was low for a supposedly big time conference, some of the ideas which were part of the deal would have allowed the restructured league a fighting chance in the uber competitive world of college athletics. However, after ESPN flexed its muscles and threw a little pocket change at the Big East no one knows what the league will be in for.

The biggest issue for the new Big East is one of perception and money. Does a game between Navy and Temple, for example, appeal to the national viewing public more than a fourth tier SEC or Big XII contest? Most would say no, and as a result ESPN is far more likely to throw that game on the schedule and rake in the advertising dollars. The worry from a Navy perspective is that this will result in a lot of random Thursday night games where no one is really watching.

The other worry for Navy is the sheer dollar amount that will be thrown their way. There has been a lot of talk about the $1.17 billion deal that ESPN offered the league a couple of years ago which quite obviously dwarfs the $130 million over seven years which was just agreed to. It is worth noting though that the bigger deal would have certainly been voided by all the teams leaving the conference so that number is essentially meaningless.

What is it not meaningless, however, is that this deal is only worth about $1.8 million a year to the Big East schools when it goes into effect. Navy will actually see even less than this as they are a football only member and thus will not get the basketball revenue. In addition you would have to believe the league will look to go to 12 teams from its current 11 further splitting the pie. To put this into context Navy picks up roughly $2.5 million per year for just ONE game when they play Army on CBS.

The reasons to bounce out of the Big East just keep on coming and the Navy athletic department should take a long look at what ESPN is planning for their Big East coverage package before fully committing to the league.

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