It’s coming down to crunch time for the Big East in its negotiations for a new television deal for football which will take the conference through the next segment of the ever-changing landscape of conference configuration.
And, not surprisingly, Big East basketball is being used as a prime asset to boost Big East football revenue.
New Big East commissioner Mike Aresco and his staff are currently coming to an end of an exclusive negotiating period with ESPN, which has televised the majority of Big East football and basketball games.
Aresco is hoping that he can sign a deal that will eventually bring in close to the $17 million dollar per school average the ACC received in its latest deal with ESPN.
That is unlikely to happen.
But according to sources familiar with negotiating process, the Big East could get “decent” money if it breaks its deal into two parts, the main portion with ESPN and the the other part with networks such as NBC and Fox.
Both networks are reportedly eager for programming and ready to let the Big East hear what offers they have when the exclusive negotiating period with ESPN ends in the next few days.
The key element for the Big East, which will expand to 12 teams in football next season and eventually expand to 17 teams in basketball, is the basketball element.
According to sources, any football package will also be directly tied in with some basketball telecasts, which is perhaps the Big East’s greatest asset right now
“Let’s face it,” said one source familiar with the Big East, “there aren’t a lot of games in football that the Big East can create any excitement. Boise State-Louisville is not going to get the country excited.”
The compromise that Aresco and Company may be attempting to put together could look something like this,
ESPN will buy a package that includes Big East Big Monday basketball, an assortment of mid-week football telecasts, a series of 12 noon football telecasts and the Big East basketball tournament.
Aresco will then go to Fox/NBC and sell other Big East football games, including some atttractive non-conference games and several Big East basketball games in various time slots during the week, depending on the preference of the networks.
While ESPN does not really need Big East football, it wants to keep a relationship with the Big East because it might be looking for programming in a few years if the Big Ten makes an expected move away from ESPN and adds more games to the Big Ten network.
In order to keep the Big East tournament and its Big Monday Big East package, ESPN is willing to continue its relationship with Big East football in some capacity.
Aresco obviously wants to maximize the money he can get from not only ESPN, but other networks.
In order to make this work, Aresco needs some quality programming available in Big East basketball.
He has several options.
Don’t be surprised if the Big East keeps Notre Dame, which is scheduled to make a move to the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football, for a few more season. Don’t be surprised if the Big East non-conference schedule in football is upgraded considerably which would allow the other networks to have some quality match ups. A Boise State-Georiga game or a Louisville-Texas game would draw more interest than most Big East Conference games. Don’t be surprised if the Big East football championship game is also part of the other package.
All of those elements combined could turn the Big East television deal into a money-maker for the conference. It won’t be a mega-deal, but it will be reasonable.© Copyright 2012 Mark, All rights Reserved. Written For: A Jersey Guy