ESPN and the Big East could be parting ways. - Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
As expected, the Big East takes its media rights onto the open market. The results will determine just how much the Big East programs can spend.
The time has come to determine the true value of the Big East product.
Per ESPN's Brett McMurphy, the Big East and ESPN will close the 60-day exclusive negotiating window for renewing their media rights deal without an agreement. This means that, as anticipated, that the Big East can go on the open market and discuss granting the rights to show Big East games on the other major networks.
The league and new Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco, who antipated "vigorous negotiation", expects multiple outlets to bid on the Big East's product. The basketball portion of the ESPN deal expires after this coming season, and the football portion expires after the 2013-14 academic year.
Chris Bevilacqua - who helped broker the Pac-12's lucrative media rights deal - has been working with the Big East commissioner on the negotiations.
The Big East offers a national football league, once Boise State and San Diego State join, a large and competitive basketball product with eastern Catholic schools like St. John's, Villanova, and Georgetown, and a strong presence in cities in the midwest and south. New to the league next year will be Memphis, Houston, Southern Methodist, Central Florida, and the aforementioned teams in Boise and San Diego.
The Big East, often saddled with a "loser" image by the casual fan and ESPN's on-air and news talent - has a two undefeated and top-25 ranked teams. Incoming member Boise State would be a third. On-field success has been marred by poor public relations - the defections of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Texas Christian, along the recent decision of Notre Dame to take basketball and Olympic/ non-revenue sports to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
ESPN, the network with the widest national distribution both over the airwaves and online, will likely be involved with the bidding. It is possible to craft a deal with distribution by multiple outfits, as the Big-12 has done. Fox and ABC/ ESPN share the football games, while basketball remains on ESPN.
The Pac-12 has shared media rights as well with ESPN and FOX, and launched their own on-air network -which allows the conference to show more non-revenue sports to more audiences, as well as offering games online.