Today, the BCS accepted ESPN's higher bid to televise the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and BCS Championship games. Some sports fans might snicker, wondering what the big deal is. If you're one of the 90% of households in this country who subscribes to ESPN, you might even cheer this decision initially. You figure that ESPN will do a better job with announcers and production quality since they cover college football all year around, so it sounds good, right?
The problem is that this is the next step down a slippery slope as big events move to cable TV. Big deal, you say? I've already got cable, so no big deal. As Lee Corso says... "Not So Fast!" Just ask yourself the question: "Where is ESPN getting the extra money to outbid Fox?"
Then look in the mirror.
You may not realize it, but if you have cable or satellite TV, you are indirectly paying for ESPN, to the tune of around $40 a year. So where will ESPN make up the extra $25 million each year? Look in the mirror.
You see, ESPN has cable TV behind the proverbial eight-ball. Nearly every cable system has ESPN on their basic package. As ESPN has added more and more major sports (such as the NFL and Major League Baseball), the fees ESPN charges your cable company have gone up dramatically. And they can easily do it, because ESPN holds all the cards. If your cable company says "No" to the higher rates, ESPN will simply pull the plug. And what would be your response if your cable company dropped ESPN? You'd probably switch to another cable or satellite provider. ESPN now has a monopoly on sporting events, and can do whatever they please.
Consultant Kevin O'Malley tells USA Today that there really isn't much of a limit to what ESPN can charge your cable company; perhaps as high as "$8-$10 a month". And what choice will we have except to pay the Mouse? Absolutely none.
Oh and what does this mean for getting some sort of playoff? Well, ESPN won't risk their golden goose, so look for nothing to change until the expiration of this deal.
Turning to a sport that actually has a playoff, UNO's hockey team cracked the Top 20 this week, coming in at #19 in the USCHO/CBS College Sports Top 20. In the USA Today Top 15 poll, they are near the top of the teams "also receiving votes". Up next for the Mavs is a home series against Michigan State. Another big series that could put UNO in solid position to make some noise this season.