Expansion without Expanding

Submitted by BlueAggie on May 20th, 2010 at 9:07 PM

The case for expansion is simple; adding teams means more yearly revenue per school.  Adding a 12th team allows the Big Ten to hold a championship game that should generate something on the order of $1 million per school.  The real profits, however, come from expanding the conference footprint, putting the Big Ten Network on basic cable in more markets.

Unfortunately, this seems to mean expansion beyond 12 teams.  Does anyone actually want a ManBearBigEast of a conference with 14 or 16 teams where we only see Minnesota or Iowa twice a decade?  I most certainly do not.

So I pose this question to the MGoBlog Community: Is there a way to expand the markets in which the BTN is on basic cable, without adding more schools?

What if the BTN were to approach the Big XII, a conference with a large number of untelevised conference games and strike a deal?  Would 2-3 games each week be enough to see the BTN put on basic cable in Big XII markets?  What if individual schools were contracted to provide ~2 non-conference football games per year, in addition to football and basketball coverage?  In short, could the BTN grow revenues without expanding the conference?

Comments

Wallaby Court

May 20th, 2010 at 9:11 PM ^

That's a hell of an interesting idea. However, I don't think that the sole imperative for expansion is swelling the tv market. It's certainly a large part of the goal, but I think the desire to add a championship game and its associated revenue.

GoBlueInNYC

May 20th, 2010 at 9:14 PM ^

I don't see it happening, but I would love it.  Every time UofM is on BTN, I have to track down a place with DirecTV to watch it.  And I can't speak for the other alumni in the Austin area, but the Tavern kind of sucks.

Prestige Worldwide

May 20th, 2010 at 10:34 PM ^

If i was Jim Delany, I would buy the broadcasting rights for the BCS National Championship Game for the BTN. That way the BTN would go nationwide. ( Evil Laugh ) HA HA HA HA HA

virgilthechicken

May 20th, 2010 at 10:55 PM ^

What if the Big Ten and Pac Ten joined together for TV and championship purposes? The BTN would have huge new markets, and scheduling would be the same for the two leagues as it is now but with a championship game added between the two "division" champions. This would be a huge expansion without changing things too much. Also, we get a bit of the old Rose Bowl dynamic back.

I'm sure there is a reason this is dumb, but it hasn't occurred to me yet.

Seth9

May 20th, 2010 at 11:05 PM ^

First of all, I wonder exactly how the Rose Bowl would factor into your scenario. Would the Rose Bowl become the championship game or would the game be completely separate from the Rose Bowl and the remaining vestiges of the Rose Bowl tradition would be scrapped?

Second of all, the reason that the Big Ten does not want to add another conference to their network is that the Big Ten has a much larger population base than the Pac 10 (and thus a much larger subscriber base) and Big Ten games draw in a lot more ad revenue than Pac 10 games for a variety of reasons, including more convenient time slots and wider alumni bases. If the Big Ten Network were to add Pac 10 schools, then the Pac 10 would be bringing in a lot less money than the Big Ten, which would reduce the amount of money that could be distributed to each school.

Seth9

May 20th, 2010 at 10:58 PM ^

1. There was a huge battle to get the BTN on cable within the Big Ten footprint. Getting it onto the Big 12 cable network for only a few games a week and no additional coverage would be incredibly difficult.

2. The Big Ten would have to pay the Big 12 for the rights to air their games.

3. The Big Ten would get the bottom of the pecking order in the Big 12. These games wouldn't produce much in the way of ad revenue, which accounts for the majority of the BTN's revenue.

Problems 2 and 3 basically ensure that the Big Ten would make a much smaller profit than they would by expanding the conference, assuming the BTN gets added to basic cable within the Big 12 footprint. And as mentioned in problem 1, that is not guaranteed. So basically, your plan, while arguably a better thing for the fans (I personally think expansion could benefit the fans, particularly fans of Big Ten schools, but that's a different conversation), would produce less revenue and greater risks than simply expanding the conference.

BlueAggie

May 20th, 2010 at 11:08 PM ^

I've never come across a breakdown of BTN revenues by source, but I would love to see one.  I have a hard time believing that their ad numbers are great, given the number of Rotel and Barbasol commercials.

Having watched a fair deal of Big XII football lately, I'm not a big fan of the FSN games.  The FSN stations do pro sports pretty well.  I would really love to see FOX task their RSN's to pro sports and make the BTN their defacto college sports channel.  I think the BTN model (basic cable in a footprint, sports tier every else) works better in the long run than ESPNU and FCS and others (sports tier everywhere).

michiganfanforlife

May 21st, 2010 at 7:56 AM ^

a whole conference means splitting the money 12 more ways. That doesn't make half as much sense as just expanding our conferece to double the revenue and split it a few more ways. I personally can't wait until we get at least 1 more team. That way we can have not only an extra week of football, but we also get 2 teams that will play a game closer to the bowl games. I have always hated the advantage every other conference has by having a shorter lay-off before the bowl games start.

Blazefire

May 21st, 2010 at 8:07 AM ^

doubt that the Big XII would allow the BTN to act as the broadcast network for any of their games, even if the Big Ten promised them a substantial portion of their earnings from televising the game. It's all about branding. The Big XII would prefer it if people there forgot that the Big Ten even existed except when they're playing us.

jblaze

May 21st, 2010 at 10:20 AM ^

from BTN to College Sports Network (likely something more creative, but you understand).

The point here is that strategic alliances with 1 or more conferences gets the BTN on more basic cable channels, doesn't upset any rivalries or create gigantic conferences with vastly different agendas...

You could even have something like the B10 champ plays the ACC Champ (or another conference).

Michigan Arrogance

May 21st, 2010 at 9:23 AM ^

They could do a B10-SEC challenge thru the non-con. BTN could get rights to any home games, and CBS the rights to the SEC home games.

 

not sure how the espn deal would play into that tho