SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: August 19, 2022

Episode Summary

The Big Ten's big day; Kevin Warren's win; streaming numbers in July surprise; the Haslams look to move ahead and MLB hits Williamsport

Episode Transcription

Well, it's certainly a good time to be with the Big Ten. And that is your lead story for this morning's BuzzCast for Friday, August 19th. Good morning. I'm Abe Madkour. We made it to Friday in August.

First let's start with the Big Ten. Historic day for the conference on Thursday, which finalized media rights deals with CBS, Fox and NBC that will total more than $8 billion over seven years making it the most lucrative conference rights deal in the history of college sports. The three deals combined will pay the conference over 1.1 billion per year, and puts the Big Ten schools well ahead of their peers in revenue. The Big Ten, remember was receiving about $440 million a year in its previous media rights deals with Fox and ESPN meaning the new deals will provide the conference with nearly a three times increase starting with the '23, '24 season and going through '29, '30 fiscal year, a three times increase in rights fees is significant.

So let's break it down. Fox has the premier package with 30 plus football games while CBS and NBC will have 15 to 16 games each. Looking to the future here's what you can expect to see, the Big Tens new set of partners will provide a full lineup of football on Saturdays in the fall. It will start with Fox's big noon Saturday at noon, followed by CBS's 3:30 window and NBC's new Big Ten Saturday night game in prime time. So that is a nice flow of games for fans and the schools will also benefit big time, as with the annual revenue reaching more than 1.1 billion a year, you divide that by 16 schools, including USC and UCLA in 2024, the per school payouts could reach $70 million or more. Think about that for a second. You're a school in the Big Ten and every year, you're getting a paycheck for more than $70 million, a pretty good windfall.

That's well ahead of the other conferences, it's well ahead, well, not well ahead, but it's ahead of the SCC, which distributed $55 million to each school in 2021. But that per school payout will increase when the SCC's extended rights deal with ESPN for $300 million a year begins after the 2023 season. But bottom line is the Big Ten payout will be significant to the schools.

Who's missing here? ESPN. And so while ESPN wasn't in the mix in the deal, multiple reports state that ESPN could still land an agreement to carry Big Ten as a sub licensee, particularly in basketball. And today I know we're talking mostly about football, but overall a big, big win for the Big Ten and Commissioner Kevin Warren, who has been in the top spot for two years.

Kevin Warren, he's had his share of ups and downs. We've talked about them on the BuzzCast. He has his supporters, he has his detractors, but he should be proud and standing tall in this big payday. And it took a ton of time and energy. He told SBJ yesterday, it was demanding spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally starting around the first of the year there was something to do literally every day on this deal. So unlike other commissioners or even organizations, Kevin Warren didn't use a traditional media consultant. He relied on his legal background. He also relied on his internal team that included the Big Ten's SVP of Television, Kerry Kenny, you have the General Counsel, Anil Gollahalli, also Deputy General Counsel, Adam Neuman, Deputy Commissioner, Diana Sabu and CFO, Laura Anderson. They all supported Kevin Warren in these negotiations.

But it's not just the Big Ten that's ecstatic about this deal. Executives I communicated with yesterday at Fox, NBC and CBS were thrilled with this outcome as they love Big Ten programming, and they love how it fits into their respective portfolios. So all involved have to be feeling very good heading into this weekend after completing such a massive deal. And this deal will be the talk of the sports business for quite some time.

Let's go from one seismic deal to a very important, someone called seismic data point from Nielsen that was released yesterday on Thursday. Would you believe that more people streamed content and programming than watched it on linear broadcast or cable TV in July? Well, according to Nielsen, that was the case. Streaming platforms in July for the first time surpassed cable networks to claim the largest share of TV viewing for the month. That is a significant point. Streaming among TV households in America represented a record nearly 35% share of total consumption. While cable came in at 34% and broadcast consumption came in at 21%. Now some of the figures said that linear numbers were hurt by the lack of major sports in July and that's certainly the case, but overall, this would represent a huge tipping point in the larger linear versus digital media landscape.

And if this continues, of course, we'll see more and more calls for measurement and viewership data around streaming platforms. It will cause advertisers to reconsider strategies of linear versus digital, and it may make sports properties more and more comfortable about putting more and more of its games and programming exclusively on streaming platforms. So yes, this is one month of July, but this is a data point we all have to keep our eye on.

During the Deshaun Watson controversy, I continued to watch Jimmy and Dee Haslam, the owners of the Browns. I'll be watching how they move ahead from this after the 11 game suspension that was handed out on Thursday. On Thursday, I found their comments after the suspension to be very interesting. As Watson continued to proclaim his innocence, Dee Haslam said she thinks Watson will learn a lot more about himself in counseling, and it will take time for Watson to understand more about himself. She believes that Deshaun Watson is making progress in his rehabilitation, but that it's not going to happen overnight. Meanwhile, Jimmy Haslam stressed that he believed everyone deserves a second chance and that he would make the trade for the controversial quarterback again, despite the 11 game suspension and that he believes Deshaun Watson will ultimately make a positive contribution to the Browns and the organization.

However many in Cleveland believe a large portion of that diehard Browns fan base will never embrace Deshaun Watson. So this story around the Browns, the Haslams and Deshaun Watson is one every NFL team is watching. It's one every NFL team is talking about, and I'll continue to see how the Haslams move ahead.

Baseball had its Field of Dreams game earlier this month and this weekend, it presents another event that baseball is really trying to build into something special. Well, I would argue it already is special. It's a very, I would say heartwarming game and that's its Little League Classic, which is a regular season game played primarily in front of Little League Baseball World Series Players and their families at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Now the fifth annual game will feature the Red Sox and the Orioles on Sunday night and ESPN 2 will maintain its alternate feed and televise a kid's cast. And yes, that is an all kids broadcast team, which I think could be a lot of fun. So that's Sunday night, 7:00 o'clock Eastern time. This game is always one of the more heartwarming games to see the major league baseball players interact with the Little Leaguers and their families. It's great television. So I'll be watching the Little League classic. I'll certainly tune in to the kids cast on ESPN 2.

So that is your morning BuzzCast for Friday, August 19th. Hope everybody has a great August summer weekend. I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening to the BuzzCast, stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll speak to you on Monday.