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John Skipper Says Four Super Conferences Are Coming

“…the Big10, who I believe just added the most populous state in the United States to their footprint, which I think has gone underrecognized in this move.”

Ricky Keeler

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With the reported moves of USC and UCLA going to the Big 10 in 2024, many have shared their opinions on what it means for college football going forward. One person who was at the heart of negotiating TV deals for college football and college basketball was the former president of ESPN, John Skipper.

Skipper was a guest on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on Thursday and he made the point that an “arms race” is developing in college sports and it is clear that the Big 10 and SEC have emerged as the two leaders:

“Now we are in kind of an arms race where everybody wants to move to a conference in order to get more money. We are coming to an era of diminishing returns in terms of just being able to move somewhere and get a bunch more money. I think it’s clear the Big 10 and SEC have emerged as the dominant players here, particularly in terms of ratings and achievement on the football field.

The SEC’s rights are tied up until 2034 and the Big 10 is probably going to have 2 new rounds of rights negotiations before 2034, so they are in a very good position to get more money. With the streamers looking to come in, they look to take advantage of that as well.”

One of the things Skipper doesn’t think is being talked about enough in realignment is what states these schools are in and how it can help a network gain more money. He remembers first-hand the deal he negotiated with the ACC when Pittsburgh, Boston College, Syracuse, and Louisville joined the conference:

“One of the more important ones we did was with the ACC. One of the big moves made was when the ACC was in danger of losing its basketball prominence to the Big East and not seeing the same kind of increases the Big 10 and SEC were. They went and took Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Boston College, and Louisville to the ACC.”

“One of the most important factors is what state they are in. For the ACC, Big 10, and SEC, all of whom have their own well-distributed networks. Pittsburgh, Boston College, Louisville and Syracuse both created a diminution of competition in the Big East, but it also added Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and Kentucky to the footprint of the ACC. Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts represent quite a lot of population and those network deals are paid based on footprint and non-footprint. One price for the state and where the subscribers live within the footprint and the price if they don’t live in the footprint. I expect that to be the case with the Big10, who I believe just added the most populous state in the United States to their footprint, which I think has gone underrecognized in this move.” 

So, what could be in the future for college sports? Skipper gave out the hypothetical that if he were running the ACC, for example, he would try to see if four super conferences were forming and what it could mean for both college football and basketball:

“I would be calling around to see if there are going to be four super conferences of 16 or so teams, which I think there will be. How about we create four super conferences and do our own basketball tournament? I also think if you created four, 16-team conferences, you have 32 bowls and every team in the conferences would go to a bowl and you might even use those bowls to play the First Round of a very expansive College Football Playoff. There’s plenty of ways to get more money in addition to trying to figure out what can be done with Amazon and Apple.”

Sports TV News

ESPN Reportedly To Lose Big Ten Media Rights For the First Time in 40 Years

The idea is that FOX would have its marquee game kick off at noon, with CBS airing a game at 3:30. NBC reportedly will air games in primetime.

Jordan Bondurant

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BIG TEN, CBS, NBC, FOX SPORTS

After several months, it appears the Big Ten is nearing the finish line on a new media rights deal. And despite still reportedly being in negotiations with the conference, ESPN is looking set to lose out on media rights.

According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, CBS and NBC are the frontrunners to join with FOX.

The idea is that FOX would have its marquee game kick off at noon, with CBS airing a game at 3:30. NBC reportedly will air games in primetime.

Ourand reported his sources told him ESPN’s deal to keep the Big Ten was not as strong as the one offered by the other two networks.

It would mark the first time in four decades that ESPN didn’t have some involvement in Big Ten sports. But Ourand indicates the worldwide leader could pivot into bundling Big 12 and Pac-12 rights as an alternative. Additionally the network would then pursue keeping its deals with NCAA for championship coverage as well as being the home for the College Football Playoff.

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Sports TV News

Pat McAfee: Deals With Amazon/ESPN Fell Short Because The Show Comes First

“Energy, time, anything away from this show… we got a lot going on. This is my number one focus and it should remain as such…”

Jordan Bondurant

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Last week, it was announced that Pat McAfee would be hosting his own version of the popular Manning Cast only for college football games.

McAfee, co-host AJ Hawk, and the rest of his cast and crew from The Pat McAfee Show will host an alternate feed for six college football games this season.

McAfee was rumored to be in talks with Amazon about potentially hosting an alternate broadcast for its Thursday NFL games, and the former Colts punter had also reportedly talking with ESPN about potentially being featured on College GameDay.

McAfee said to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post that ultimately the Amazon and GameDay deals didn’t come to fruition because it just didn’t make sense.

“I’ve had great conversations with both companies, we just weren’t able to get to a point where ‘the ask’ and ‘the business’ were where it needed to be to get a deal done on both fronts,” McAfee said.

McAfee on his show on Monday elaborated a bit further, trying to put to bed that he was being courted for Thursday Night Football.

“I’m not 100 percent sure if that’s what we were talking about, by the way,” he said. “I was never really approached for anything for Thursday Night Football. That was never really anything.”

Pat read from the full response to Marchand’s questions, posted under the Post story which appeared on the paper’s site Monday. He reiterated that his daily show and the small business he built around his show, take precedent over anything else.

“Energy, time, anything away from this show, this operation, this crew; we got families being built, we got houses being bought, we got 12 employees, we got a lot going on,” he said. “So this is my number one focus and it should remain as such because I have a brain, and also I care a lot about this operation. I love it, actually.”

Still, McAfee made it clear that just because no deal was signed with ESPN and Amazon for 2022 means the ship has sailed permanently. He’s keeping his doors open.

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Sports TV News

Fox Officially Unveils NFL Broadcast Teams

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In what has been considered a formality for some time, Fox today officially unveiled Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi as their number one NFL broadcast team Monday. Burkhardt and Olsen were elevated to Fox’s top booth after the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier this year.

There were some reports that Drew Brees could have been a possibility to join the network, but those discussions fell apart.

The network’s other teams include several familiar faces to football fans:

#2 team: Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Pam Oliver
#3 team: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink
#4 team: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake
#5 team: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
#6 team: Chris Myers, Robert Smith, Jen Hale

Olsen’s jump to the number one team with Burkhardt is a formality until the retirement of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner will ascend to Fox’s number one booth upon his retirement, whenever that may be.

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