ESPN is reportedly trying to outbid Fox and take the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) which crowns the #1 college football team to cable, beginning after next season. As first reported by SportsBusiness Daily, Fox is balking at the 50% price increase being sought by the BCS.
Fox has one more season to go on its deal with an $82.5 million fee. The BCS reportedly wants a four-year deal for $500 million, or $125 million per year. SportsBusiness Daily says Fox has offered abut $102 million per year, a 25% increase, but may not be willing to go any higher.
ESPN, meanwhile, is said to have agreed to the $500 million, four-year package. So it is just waiting to see if Fox will exercise its right to match the bid and keep the BCS.
A sidelight to this is what could happen to the only BCS bowl game that is not part of the contract up for bid. That’s the Rose Bowl, which has aired on ABC for 21 years. Both ABC and ESPN are owned by Disney and a provision of that contract would allow the Rose Bowl to move to ESPN along with the other BCS games.
RBR/TVBR observation: Despite the current economic turmoil, sports rights demands continue to go through the roof. Fox, which has already trimmed back its Major League Baseball playoffs deal, is unlikely to go for a deal with the BCS that doesn’t make economic sense. But we wait to see if there is an uproar from Capitol Hill if the most important games in college football leave free TV.