Stick to pontificating. The SEC's contract for Tier1 and Tier2 rights expires in 2025. They will negotiate for more money with the addition of subpar teams from two new markets, but if they don't like ESPN's terms, then they can bide their time until 2025 and see what the market will offer.
Yesterday, we linked you to a story from The Oklahoman in which interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas pooh-poohed his league’s need for the type of national broadcasting partner the SEC (with CBS) and Notre Dame (with NBC) enjoy.
“Let me remind you that college football is still a regional sport. Unless you have a big SEC game, it’s not going to rate that well. They have games on the SEC package that aren’t going to knock your socks off.”
Columnist Berry Tramel then points out that “the overall rating for the SEC on CBS was 4.2 in 2011, 4.2 in 2010 and 4.4 in 2009. That’s a little better than the Big 12 on ABC, but nothing significant.”
Neinas’ take is spin, Tramel’s is a bit off the mark. Let’s start with Neinas.
While there may be some SEC games on CBS that don’t “knock your socks off,” those games are still on CBS. That’s national television, not regional television… which is what most Big 12 games get via that league’s pacts with ABC/ESPN and Fox.
Those SEC games are shown nationally. They’re promoted nationally all week. Hell, they’re even listed in daily newspaper “What’s On TV Today” sections nationally. (Though 50% of our readers just said, “What’s a newspaper?”)
National beats regional whether it’s a big game or a dud. Any suggestion otherwise is pure spin. The idea that the Big 12 would prefer to remain a regional league with only the occasional game kicked to a national level is laughable.
Which brings us to Tramel. He compares the SEC’s ratings on CBS to the Big 12′s ratings when they’re on ABC. But a year’s worth of national coverage on CBS tops a year’s worth of regional coverage on ABC with a few national games tossed in.
According to Nielsen’s 2011 ratings, the average viewership for each league’s football games — across all carriers — stood at 4.44 million viewers for the SEC and 2.34 million viewers for the Big 12. You don’t have to be Pythagoras to realize that on average an SEC football game — whether it knocks anyone’s socks off or not — almost doubles up the viewership for a Big 12 game.
If the Big 12 could swap its television deals with the SEC’s soon-to-be re-negotiated deals, it would do so in an Austin minute (which is where all important Big 12 decisions are made).