The near nuclear arms race to build up conferences last summer has lead to a surprise rom-com sequel: a race to hook up with the richest TV networks. The University of Texas (signing with ESPN) and the Big 12 (FOX) conference took the first oaths this spring. However, the final remaining conference, the revamped Pac-12, has the opportunity to make the savvier and most influential move.
Reports stated last week that NBC Universal has joined talks, along with FOX, ESPN and Turner, to land a monumental deal with the Pac-12 conference for rights to air football, basketball and other collegiate sports. Comcast, NBC Universal’s latest parent company, wants to leverage sports (in this case, college football) to help their struggling network and continue their challenge to ESPN.
To accomplish this, the “I just got this new body” Pac-12 needs to slut itself up, take fallen royalty NBC to Vegas on a wild 24-hour bender and make the Peacock wake up the next morning with the nastiest hangover and a freshly inked nuptial. (annulment not authorized)
In “business” terms, the conference wants an exclusive and resourceful media partner to showcase its quality and entertaining brand of football and NBC would love nothing more than to flaunt a rising football conference as it attempts its own resurgence. This mutual lovefest will, in turn, reward and alleviate fans by making Pac-12 games easier find to find and watch (something the conference failed fantastically in the last TV deal).
(We strongly support this move, as it will unclog the already jumbled regional messes on ESPN and Fox Sports. The Board generally leans towards the SEC but if it benefits the entirety of college football, then huzzah!)
Unfortunately, NBC holds the key. The 4th place broadcast network has been making flop-tastic missteps since its 90’s Golden Age and desperately needs to be injected with some life.
And one of the first steps to do so is to acquire a quality sports slate, and it’s no surprise that NBC’s current lineup of major sports is struggling against the broadcast competitors:
- Sunday Night NFL (minimal NFL coverage when it lost rights in 90’s)
- Olympics (good for 2 weeks every 2 years)
- NHL (the least popular of the major sports in terms of interest & ratings)
- Notre Dame football (only relevant if the team is relevant, and it hasn’t been for the last four seasons)
NBC’s sports jewel is Sunday Night Football, and even though it’s a ratings giant, it can’t compete with the other networks’ collection of NBA, NFL, college football and basketball deals.
Marketing 101 would say that, by adding an exciting and popular sports platform, NBC could promote their shows to a large audience that could jump-start sagging ratings (developing quality shows other than its Thursday night line up is a completely different matter… again, baby steps for NBC).
Alas, NBC hasn’t really excelled in marketing and the $2.2 billion, ten year deal that the Pac-12 is asking for may be too high. However, with other suitors swarming around the last conference belle, imagining those fall football Saturdays with swarming audience for 14 weeks during fall sweeps may be too good for NBC to pass up. If they do, there’s always hockey**.
Our other recommendations to sweeten the deal:
- Use sister cable USA network, in addition to Comcast’s stale sports net Versus, for football and other sports (honestly, we wouldn’t even use Versus, but Comcast is stubborn about its wittle sports channel)
- Have weeknight game that mirror’s ESPN’s successful Thursday night game (on a sister cable)
- Digital streaming digital content, digital, digital, digital
*NBC has exclusive home game rights to Notre Dame but they’ll be shoved to the side if the Pac-12 drops in. Haha… Notre Dame
**Comcast/ NBCUniversal just inked a deal for MORE hockey… yeeeeeeeeeeah!