While the on court results for Friar fans last night were very disappointing, there was some off court news being made
that is very encouraging for the Providence College basketball program. ESPN reported last night that the seven Big East non-football schools are close to an agreement with Fox that would bring the new conference a television contract worth up to $500 million over the next twelve years.
A few of the highlights from the article include:
- The seven schools could be making close to $5 million a year off of the new television deal. The current deal the nom-football schools have is worth between $2 million and $3 million annually.
- The “Catholic 7” schools would add anywhere from 3 to 5 new schools to form a 10 to 12 team conference. These new schools would reportedly not immediately get the full $5 million a year deal for television rights that the “Catholic 7” would receive. The new schools deal would be roughly half of this at the start.
- The new conference would be playing their games on the new Fox Sports Channel 1 which is set to make its debut on August 1.
What does this mean for the future of the Friars and of the new conference going forward if this new contract is adopted?
Fox is not messing around. A $500 million investment over 12 years is not just buying TV rights to televise basketball games. Fox is going to make this new conference one of the centerpieces of their new Fox Sports Channel 1 Network. They have a vested interest in having the new conference succeed and will advertise their new product accordingly. The new conference will not disappear from sight just because they are not on ESPN.
In addition, with the new network scheduled to launch this August, I can see a renewed effort being made to have the split being done this year in order to be on the new network next year.
Basketball has its swag back. For the past few years college basketball has taken hit after hit as football realignment unfolds around us. With $500 million over 12 years Fox is stepping to the plate saying that basketball does indeed matter once again. It will never be on the same plane as football, but it also does not have to totally subjugate itself to football either.
Make no mistake about it, this contract is stating that the new conference with the non-football schools is indeed a major conference on a par (basketball-wise) with the BCS conferences. The gulf between the new “Catholic 7” conference and a conference such as the Atlantic 10 just became a canyon.
A choice of new schools for the conference. Any non-football school that plays serious basketball will want to be in this conference. The “Catholic 7”schools will be able to select which teams they want in the new conference.
This is why teams like Xavier and Butler would say yes even though they may get less initial television revenue than the original seven schools. If they want to be a major player in college basketball going forward this new conference may be the only way to go for non-football schools, at least in the beginning.
The other reason for the disparity of television revenues between the original seven Big East schools and other new additions is the costs that the seven Big East schools will be incurring to leave the Big East conference. Some of these costs include getting the naming rights for the Big East Conference, possible early exit fees, costs associated with obtaining Madison Square Garden as the site for their post season conference, and possible revenues lost by leaving the conference early (NCAA tournament shares and early exit fees from others who have already left the Big East).
The Catholic Seven got it right. The non-football schools in the Big East have often been criticized for years that they just stood around and did nothing while all of the conference realignment was going on around them. They seemed to know what they were doing after all. Their timing could not have been better with two networks (Fox and NBC) launching all new sports networks. I also don’t think it is just a mere coincidence that a couple of weeks after they announce they were leaving the Big East there may be a deal in the works for a TV contract worth up to 5 million a year. It turns out the “Catholic 7” were not asleep at the wheel in the end.
Email Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org