Rose Bowl and ESPN Reach Reported TV Agreement

By Jay Beck

All of the ramifications of the recently announced four-team football playoff likely won’t be known for some time, but if today’s report that ESPN will pay $80 million a year to televise the Rose Bowl starting in 2015 are any indication, the rich are definitely getting richer.

The Rose Bowl’s current media deal pays $30 million annually meaning the new deal dwarfs what the Big Ten and Pac-12 are currently collecting from pitting their conference champions against each other.

Here’s an excerpt from the Sports Business Journal’s report on the new deal:

The Rose Bowl’s partners, the Pac-12 and Big Ten, keep all of that media revenue, except in years when the Rose Bowl is a semifinal game in the playoffs. When the bowl is part of the playoffs, that media revenue would flow through the playoff system and be distributed to all of the FBS conferences. That method of distribution has not been determined yet.

The astronomical number goes to show just how valuable live sports broadcasts have become in the DVR world we live in.  People watch live broadcasts and in most cases, the advertising that goes along with it.

If there was any doubt about that, there shouldn’t be seeing how ESPN is apparently willing to shell out huge dollars without any sort of guarantee the game will actually match the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions.

Should there be a season when for example, USC and Michigan, qualify for the four-team playoff, the Rose Bowl essentially becomes the Runner-up Bowl matching the conferences’ two second place teams who would both move up a spot in the pecking order.

It’s not likely that either conference is all that concerned about who actually plays in the game, however.  Either way, they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

And it doesn’t stop there.

The conferences will also receive a huge payout from the actual playoff once it’s determined exactly how the revenue will be distributed (estimated as high as $600 million) which will be in addition to the revenue each conference collects from their alliance with the Rose Bowl.

After seeing these types of numbers, it’s not hard to see why schools have been scrambling to ensure they are in one of the four or five “major” conferences that figure to be standing when the conference realignment dust settles.

For the schools that are unable to get a seat at the table, the financial ramifications could be crippling.  It’s either get paid and keep up with the Jones’ or be relegated to second-tier status.  And the gap between the two only figures to get bigger as the major conferences continue to ink new TV deals for their bowl agreements.

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