The BCS Might Be Moving From FOX Back To ESPN/ABC

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The scuttlebutt in and around the Sports Media World this afternoon is the very interesting development that the BCS is seriously considering accepting ESPN/ABC's bid, and a move away from FOX Sports. From John Ourand at SBJ via the Sporting News....

The BCS is considering a proposal from ESPN that would see all BCS bowl games, including the championship game, wind up on ESPN, sources familiar with the negotiations are saying. If the BCS ultimately accepts the bid, it would mark the first time all games in a major championship were not available on an over-the-air broadcast network. If the BCS opts to move to ESPN, it would continue a trend that has seen other leagues migrate playoff series exclusively from broadcast to cable. MLB, the NBA and the NHL all have placed playoff games on cable over the past few years. If ABC/ESPN ultimately wins the bid and moves even one BCS game to ESPN, it would trigger a clause in its Rose Bowl contract that would allow it to immediately take the annual game in Pasadena from its home of 21 years on ABC to the cable channel.
Now here's where it gets tricky. While ESPN probably offered a number that's way higher than FOX would or did, under the current contract the BCS still has to present FOX with a number first. The network can either accept or refuse, and if they don't accept, the rights go out on the open market. The number that's being thrown around is a $500 million, 4-year deal, which would constitute a 50% hike over last year's price to FOX.

Even though FOX's broadcast and presentation of the BCS is terrible, the network still gets great ratings and advertising dollars from the four games. With this year's regular season shaping up like a virtual playoff system, those numbers and dollars are only going to go up. It would seem tough for them to give a cash cow like that up, but ESPN has been kicking themselves for losing the rights before (rightfully so), and might make an offer FOX just can't compete with. Plus if you add in the fact that FOX hasn't been letting ESPN rebroadcast BCS game highlights for the past few years, it might be safe to say the "Leader" could be holding a grudge.

I've personally been hoping for this move for the past two years, but didn't think it was likely leading up to this year's negotiations. I think my feeling today has changed from doubtful to....."So you're telling me there's a chance?!" Everyone keep your fingers crossed.

BCS considering moving games from Fox to ESPN (Sporting News)


Can you imagine the angst in Middle America if they even think of taking the Granddaddy Of 'Em All (TM) off over-the-air TV? Expand the number of games to six by adding the now-Capital One Bowl (to be renamed the Disney World Citrus Bowl if that happens), place the Big East champs in there and add another pair of at-large berths and everyone wins.

JamesCraven said...
Nov 11, 2008, 2:56:00 PM  

I think fox will find a way to keep the BCS TV rights, because its too much of a cash cow for therm right now.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 3:16:00 PM  

Part of Fox's problem is they cover next to zero college football games during the regular season. There's no familiarity.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 3:31:00 PM  

new year's day won't be the same without the bowl games. what will people watch on the networks besides soap opera repeats? plus, espn already hordes too many sports and shows poker instead.

the bcs needs to stay on network tv, not regulated to cable where only diehards to care to watch. imagine someone watching their local team all year and then finding out the championship game was going to be on versus and they don't have it. what has the world come to when the cma's are considered more essential to network tv than bowl games?

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 3:33:00 PM  

How many people don't get ESPN these days? It's not nearly the same thing as putting the games on Versus.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 3:53:00 PM  

Only diehards care to watch on cable/satellite? I live in a region where cable/satellite penetration is 95% -- the New York metropolitan area.

@steve: NBC aired New Year's Day bowl games long before NBC became the TV home of Notre Dame. CBS aired the Cotton Bowl game long before CBS added regular-season college football.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 3:56:00 PM  

I am loving this news! The faster the BCS is off FOX the better. For the most part broadcast networks do a fine job showing games. FOX last year is the exception. It was Awful.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 4:04:00 PM  

Yeah, if you don't have cable at this point, you shouldn't be bitching about college football anyway.

This is sad, sad news for marching bands! Won't somebody please think of the marching bands!

GMoney said...
Nov 11, 2008, 4:07:00 PM  

i would think fox needs to add a pac-10 game of the week and a non-bcs bowl game to their network package (i'm not talking fsn or their other cable nets, either) for their next contract. the reason i suggest a pac-10 package is because of the bcs conferences, the pac-10 is the least viewed nationally, and not alot of people see the pac-10 on a weekly basis like the other conferences. it's a good chance for fox to practice their college announcing skills and for people to get exposed to fox's college football coverage and to see pac-10 football.

what is the trouble of the games moving to cable is that you're going to lose viewers (not everyone has cable), and non-sports fans will be less inclined to watch a championship game on cable than on network tv. as much as we want cable tv to be bigger than the networks, it's not happening yet. even though fox's coverage isn't the best, it's better than putting it on cable.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 4:13:00 PM  

I would elated beyond belief if ESPN/ABC got the BCS back, even if ESPN was able to air one (or more) BCS bowls. But the Rose Bowl should stay on ABC, in all would make no sense for ESPN to take the Rose Bowl off of ABC.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 4:28:00 PM  

Many times over the new Year's break I head north (in Michigan)to my parent's cottage on the lake and ski and/or snowmobile. It would be terrible for the games to not be on a major network. With all the networks broadcasting in HD over the air I think there is still a decent number of people without cable that would watch these games.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 4:43:00 PM  

Theres no way Fox gives up. They overpay for other sports, why would they give up on the BCS? It's so perfect for them...ESPN does all the work in the regular season, building these teams up and Fox gets the ratings win for a whole week. It's a nobrainer...I have no idea why ESPN/ABC gave it up in the first place.

I bet this year's championship game will get huge ratings. Think Fox would give up a Florida/Texas title game? Alabama/Oklahoma?

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 5:02:00 PM  

I absolutely cannot stand anything that Fox has to do with. They are by far the worst of the worst in sports coverage. Hands down.

Worst announcers. Worst coverage. Worst ratings.

Fox, as well documented, only covers the BCS and that's it. How many games does the man that calls the national championship, Thom Brennaman call per year? Very little. And the games he does call is on the Big Ten Network. What about the other announcers employed the past two years, Kenny Albert and Matt Vasgersian? They're experience of calling college football on Fox consists of well, the two BCS bowl games that they called.

Announcing teams that call championships should follow the regular season throughout and thus have a better chemistry with each other and work each other. And also so that the viewing audience is used to them. Fox's college pregame shows feel forced, as if the only reason they're having a pregame show, is to have a pregame show. And they try to cram everything possible in those 30 minutes, resulting in the inevitable epic fail.

As much as we rag on and make fun of ESPN, I'll take them everyday of the week over The Hideousness That Is Fox Sports.

We still have to wait out the rest of Fox's contract though before any of this can take place, right?

Justin F. said...
Nov 11, 2008, 5:15:00 PM  

I would miss the band shots if this happened.

Taylor said...
Nov 11, 2008, 5:23:00 PM  

Just ask Cap'n Rupert, the Aussie Buccaneer. Arrrr...

JamesCraven said...
Nov 11, 2008, 5:40:00 PM  

FOX needs to go....the worst

rbaadqir said...
Nov 11, 2008, 5:40:00 PM  

I'm pretty sure the games will air on ABC if they win the bid. They will get way higher ratings on ABC than they would ESPN.

I hate that Fox has the BCS games, but no regular season games.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 5:46:00 PM  

Somewhat unrelated, but I always feel such confusion when CBS gets to the bowl season and, after covering (basically) just SEC all year, usually gets a bunch of non SEC-teams in the Sun Bowl and the Gator Bowl.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 5:59:00 PM  

@ sandlapper spike

True, but there are people who still don't get ESPNU and ESPN Classic. If their favorite team's bowl game is on one of those two channels, which is possible, the fans are screwed.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 6:31:00 PM  

@Anon 6:31: There isn't one live bowl game of any kind on ESPNU or ESPN Classic and I want to say there are two bowl games (Texas & Insight?) on the NFL Network.

I'm in favor of anything that gets Charles Davis off of high visibility games.

Nov 11, 2008, 6:38:00 PM  

check out this hilarious BCS satire!

Unknown said...
Nov 11, 2008, 6:53:00 PM  

I agree that it would be a good idea for FOX to make a deal for the Pac-10 like CBS has with the SEC. If they did that, I would be feel a little better about FOX retaining the BCS.

It also seems a little strange for all five bcs games to go on ESPN. Having them on ABC would make more sense and have higher viewers.

walnuts said...
Nov 11, 2008, 6:54:00 PM  

I am a Florida Gator fan and as much as I would like to see ESPN/ABC get the rest of the BCS back, I wonder why CBS couldn't take a shot at bidding? Unless they have been paying out the ass to keep March Madness, SEC, and NFL, which I'm sure is the case and I'm sure they don't want to make the mistake they made in the early 90s and NBC made in the late 90s by bidding too much for a big event thus losing the other sports they televise.

I really wish the BCS Bowls were split up like they were before the BCS and divide it by conference where ABC/ESPN can televise the Rose and Orange Bowls (Big Ten, Pac 10, ACC, Big East) CBS the Sugar Bowl (SEC) and NBC the Fiesta Bowl (Notre Dame normally plays here if they make the top 8) and the BCS Championship will be televised and hosted in a rotation like the Super Bowl but the sites can go beyond the 4 BCS Cities to include Tampa, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Dallas, Houston, and San Diego.

To the person who commented about Orlando hosting a BCS game. It will NEVER happen until the Citrus Bowl gets completely renovated, plus that stadium in the ghetto part of the city which is why UCF built their small, all aluminum, stadium on campus. There was a shooting in the parking lot before a game in 2004.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 7:10:00 PM  

I agree with Tampa Bil, New Year's Day is still a great day, but it used to be better and I wish they had more games on New Year's Day and make it the way it use to be. It was a day when you would need 3 t.v.'s, look at this year, you just have 3 on at one time, because the Cotton Bowl is on Jan.2, but you do get Red Wings vs Blackhawks at Wrigley, so start with 3 or 4 tv's, then down to one, and what if the Rose Bowl is Penn State vs Oregon State, look at week 2 of the college football season, and lastly I will agree with everybody, FOX is the worst.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 7:29:00 PM  

The Citrus Bowl (in Orlando) is being replaced in 2012 (responde to Tampabill)

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 8:54:00 PM  

@paul: Fox is in no position to take the Pac-10 OTA telecasts from ESPN/ABC. There would be a major conflict with Fox's existing contract for baseball -- and that contract runs through 2013.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 9:02:00 PM  

The Citrus Bowl is being refurbished in fact as part of the whole new Orlando Magic arena from what I'm being told.

JamesCraven said...
Nov 11, 2008, 9:52:00 PM  

I was always under the impression that ABC gave up the BCS contract because they were losing money. I believe some ABC exec said that on the record.

I only see ESPN/ABC wanting this package back if they can pull an MNF--airing the games exclusively on cable. MNF lost a ton on ABC in its last few years but is now making a killing on ESPN.

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 11:37:00 PM  

steve said: "Part of Fox's problem is they cover next to zero college football games during the regular season. There's no familiarity."

Uh -- Fox televises the NFL with FASTER players, BETTER players, etc. I think the camera guys can handle a college game.
PLUS, Fox televises football better than CBS, NBC and ESPN.

Anonymous said...
Nov 12, 2008, 1:44:00 AM  

good point 1:44!
steve also brought up familiarity. so fans aren't smart enough to watch college football during the season on other channels and they just magically find their team on Fox during the BCS and wonder why they aren't familiar with them? LOL
dumbest thing i've ever heard steve.

Anonymous said...
Nov 12, 2008, 1:46:00 AM  

The Pac-10 has a broadcast contract with abc. Fox therefore can't air a Pac-10 game. Fox's coverage stinks. I don't know how people can argue that ESPN/ABC don't rule college football. CBS is just SEC and while ABC is ACC, BIG-12, PAC-10, BIG-10, and BIG EAST, ESPN covers all conferences. I think a big problem with FOX for me is their announcers, Chris Rose, and no regular season coverage. I don't see why ESPN wouldn't put at least the Nat'l Championship game on ABC, ABC has nothing good in early January.

Anonymous said...
Nov 12, 2008, 2:20:00 AM  

The combination of the BCS being on FOX, and stretching well beyond New Year's Day (wow! a stand-alone Kansas-Virginia Tech Orange Bowl three days after New Year's!) has basically rendered those games unwatchable...and anyone who watched last year's Cotton Bowl (featuring a seemingly never-ending Pat Summerall interview with Frank Broyles during game play) can surely attest to that...

Admittedly, the Bowl Alliance (1995-1997) December 31st game was somewhat lame, but it was still light years ahead of having "non-championship" bowl games after January 1st (or Monday, January 2nd)...

FOX also apparently blocked the Orange Bowl's desire to invite West Virginia in deference to a more "national" appeal...incidentally enough, this action precluded the Fiesta Bowl from inviting the Pac-10 co-champion, and godfather of the very game itself, Arizona State...

Supposedly ABC/ESPN wasn't all too excited about the "double-hosting" format (and its lowered threshold for "non-BCS" participants) and wasn't all that willing to match FOX's (loss-leader) offer under the new terms...

The notion of any "at-large" participants being guaranteed a BCS berth is beyond me (love them or hate them, at least Notre Dame would be "invited")...if you're going to force bowl games to "invite" teams based on criteria other than of their own direct choosing (i.e. being the "host" bowl for a given conference), how does that need lead to the conclusion of simply having an "inclusive" playoff?

Anonymous said...
Nov 12, 2008, 3:39:00 AM  

anon 2:20 -- then why are Pac-10 games on FSN. (FOX Sports Network)

anon 2:20 -- you might as well leave this site. you know NOTHING about sports television. your post is littered with inaccuracies and typical sports bar urban legends.

Anonymous said...
Nov 12, 2008, 11:09:00 AM  

I for one don't have cable, but I won't mind this if it happens.
I take half the money I save by not having cable and go to a bar when I want to watch a game. The other half goes into my hooker fund.

Anonymous said...
Nov 12, 2008, 1:38:00 PM  

Don't you jackasses get it? This is what we need for a playoff. If crotchety people in the Midwest can't find the Rose Bowl without basic cable, then rating will plummet. This is a death knell of the BCS.

Brad James said...
Nov 12, 2008, 1:42:00 PM  

FOX will find a way to get the BCS rights back, they have the NFL and Baseball locked up, But for the pac 10 I think ESPN ABC has a contract with them for regular season games plus FOX pac 10 would conflict with Baseball and NASCAR, plus they put a lot of money in on the BIG TEN NETWORK

Anonymous said...
Nov 13, 2008, 11:30:00 PM  

Picture Pam Ward and Ray Bentley calling the Fiesta Bowl? God!!!! I think, seriously, that TNT/TBS could get involved, too.

Anonymous said...
Nov 14, 2008, 9:09:00 PM  

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