Halloween candy, ranked:
- Caramel creams
Now that the Big 12 has secured six-year deals with ESPN and Fox Sports worth $2.28 billion, all eyes are on the Pac-12, which exited its exclusive negotiating window with ESPN and Fox three weeks ago. This is what we know.
- ESPN and Amazon Prime remain the frontrunners to pick up the Pac-12 rights, with deals possibly coming by the end of the year. It is too early to describe what is in these packages with any accuracy. But it’s important to note that ESPN’s Big 12 deal doesn’t take it out of the hunt for Pac-12 rights. And Amazon still wants a package of college football games to complement its Thursday night package of NFL games.
- The first reaction of Pac-12 officials when they heard about the Big 12’s deal was relief. Big 12 schools will each receive about $31 million per school as part of the deal, and Pac-12 officials are optimistic they will be able to eclipse that figure. That means unless the Big Ten or SEC come calling, it’s unlikely a Pac-12 school will be persuaded to leave the conference.
- One reason for that optimism is the fact that the Pac-12 has its rights on the open market. The Big 12 could not have hit the open market until 2024. While Amazon and ESPN are the clear frontrunners, the Pac-12 has had talks with Apple, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery. The theory is that the presence of several serious bidders will help drive the price up.
- The big question will be about the price. Media companies believe the Big 12 deal set the market. The Pac-12 still aims higher. Keep in mind that the Pac-12 will have fewer schools — 10 instead of 12 — after USC and UCLA depart for the Big Ten. That’s two fewer mouths to feed. ESPN took pains to ensure that their Big 12 deal would not result in a larger payout per school than the ACC. Because of the ACC network, it is difficult to determine how much ACC schools earn from their ESPN deal. But I was told the Big 12 won’t eclipse the ACC on that front at any point during the Big 12’s deal, which runs through 2030-31. ESPN will likely approach the Pac-12 negotiations in a similar manner.
- I keep seeing one aspect of the Big 12 deal that creates confusion among fans on social media. Historically, the Big 12 had what it called “Tier Three” rights, which are the rights retained by the schools and sold to local broadcasters. These are the rights, for example, that Texas used to create the Longhorn Network with ESPN. ESPN now controls all of these rights as part of its deal; there are no more institutionally controlled games and no more Tier Three rights.
Tonight’s postponement of the World Series creates a unique Thursday night situation for Fox in the Philadelphia and Houston media markets. That’s because the Game 3 delay now means the Astros-Phillies Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday night, which is the same night those Fox affiliates had planned to carry the Eagles-Texans “Thursday Night Football” game. Other US markets will see the game on Amazon Prime Video.
The decision was easy in Houston, where Fox has a duopoly. It will carry the World Series on its senior station (KRIV Fox 26) and move “TNF” to its junior station (KTXH My20). It’s a little trickier in Philadelphia, where it doesn’t have a duopoly. I hadn’t yet heard about Fox’s plans in Philly at deadline.
One winner with the MLB rainout on Monday is the WWE. The World Series schedule change means “Friday Night SmackDown” is back on Fox this week instead of FS1.
Fox got off to a good start to its World Series, as Game 1 audiences grew over the past two years, with the Phillies’ come-from-behind extra-innings win over the Astros on Friday night drawing 11.5 million viewers, notes my colleague Austin Carp.
That number is up 6% from last year’s Braves-Astros Game 1, which aired on a Tuesday night (10.8 million). It’s also up big from 9.3 million viewers for Dodgers-Rays to start the 2020 Fall Classic amid a packed fall schedule amid the pandemic. Phillies-Astros Game 1 was down 7% from Nationals-Astros Game 1 in 2019 (also on a Tuesday night).
Houston drew a 23.6 local rating to lead all markets on Friday night, followed by Philly with a 23.0. Rounding out the top five were Austin (9.4), San Antonio (8.5) and St. Louis (7.9). In a bit of a surprise, streaming for Game 1 was actually down from last year, as the game averaged a minute audience of 220,408 viewers, down from a Game 1 record of 273,619 for the Braves-Astros opener.
I generally don’t amplify consumer surveys in this newsletter because I don’t trust the results. When participating in a consumer survey, I always advocate paying less for more. But I found some of the answers interesting from a survey of 5,018 NFL fans in The Streamable. Respondents were asked which streaming service they would be most likely to subscribe to if it won the NFL Sunday Ticket.
Fans were given four choices: YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN+ and AppleTV+. The bottom line: fans clearly prefer YouTube, which gave the highest scores. On the other side of the coin, AppleTV+ finished dead last. Amazon was second and ESPN+ third.
Only 1,527 of the 5,018 survey respondents expressed a preference, so take these results with a grain of salt. But it makes for interesting reading.
Fox Sports’ Howie Long will be honored with the 2023 Pat Summerall Award, presented annually to an NFL broadcaster. The dinner, which benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, held each year during Super Bowl week. This season’s event will be held on February 9 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix.
Cheryl DeLeonardi’s Ocean 2 Ocean Productions created this event in 2006. It has raised more than $2 million for St. Jude during its 17-year run.
A Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Long has been part of Fox’s NFL pregame show since its inception in 1994 and won a Sports Emmy for studio analyst in 1997.
He is the 17th broadcaster to be honored with this award, joining Erin Andrews (2022), Jim Kelly (2020), Bill Cowher (2019), Tony Dungy (2018), Rich Eisen (2017), John Madden (2016 ), Joe Buck (2015), Michael Strahan (2014), Archie Manning (2013), Al Michaels (2012), “The NFL on Fox” (2011), Cris Collinsworth (2010), Chris Berman (2009), Jim Nantz (2008) , Greg Gumbel (2007) and James Brown (2006).
- Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” got back over 10 million viewers with Ravens-Buccaneers on Thursday, the first time it has crossed the threshold since Dolphins-Bengals back on Sept. 29, SBJ’s Austin Karp notes. The game (10.01 million viewers) is the fourth “TNF” game in the top 10 million and brings the pack’s average to 10.3 million for the season so far.
- An unbundled approach to the NCAA’s media rights (outside of the men’s framework) would allow the NCAA to take some of its most valuable championships—such as women’s track, baseball and softball, ice hockey and volleyball—to the market individually, but potential downside would be if it there is enough competition for these rights to really drive up prices, writes my colleague Michael Smith.
- The Canucks renewed their regional media rights agreement with Canada-based Rogers Communications (Sportsnet) through the 2032-33 season. As part of the deal, Rogers retains the naming rights to the NHL team’s downtown Vancouver arena.
- Buzzer reached an agreement with ATP Media that will allow the short-form live sports platform to offer fans live men’s tennis content and match alerts on their phones, notes my colleague Liz Mullen.
- SBJ this week has an excerpt from the new book “Ed Snider: The Last Sports Mogul,” which looks at Snider’s deal with Comcast to create Comcast-Spectacor, just as Comcast was preparing to enter the RSN business.
- Warner Bros. Discovery Sports partnered with Infinite Reality on a multi-year deal to create its first metaverse experience for one of its European sports properties, SportTechie’s Joe Lemire reports. The first implementation will be dedicated to the UCI Track Champions League, the professional cycling circuit that enters its second season on November 12.