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Next TV deal in 2012 could be huge for Big East

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- The Big East's current TV deal with ESPN runs through the 2012 season, but commissioner John Marinatto can appreciate how much his next round of negotiations have been helped by huge deals signed by the ACC and Pac-12 in the past year.

"I'm very excited about what the Pac-12 was able to accomplish two weeks ago, just like last year when we were here, I told you how excited we were about what the ACC was able to do," Marinatto said from the league's annual spring meetings. "It keeps resetting the marketplace, and it puts us, because of the assets we bring to the table, in a much better place to move forward."

The Pac-12's new deal with ESPN and Fox is worth $3-billion over 12 years, or $250-million per year. The ACC's deal with ESPN went from $67-million a year to $155-million. So the Big East is in position to improve considerably on its current six-year, $200-million deal with ESPN, which has a 60-day window of exclusive negotiating rights starting in September 2012.

"There's a distinct advantage in going last," Marinatto said. "Obviously, with the marketplace continually resetting, we sat here 12 months ago and were envious of what the ACC was able to do, because we thought that reset the marketplace. We sit here and in less than a year, the Pac-12 has reset the marketplace once again. So it's setting the stage for us, providing that we're obviously deliberate and aggressive, in order to monetize our rights in a fashion similar to what they've done."

Marinatto said with three bidders -- ESPN, Fox and Comcast/NBC -- and the addition of TCU, the Big East has improved its position. He said the Big East markets reach 30 percent of the nation's households, a larger footprint than either the Pac-12 or ACC. The league hasn't had as much football success as other BCS conferences, but it sent 11 men's basketball teams to the NCAA Tournament, breaking its own record.

"Obviously we deliver much more in terms of our households," Marinatto said. "So ... I think we look at a very, very aggressive and potentially strong future in terms of media-market rights. That's one of the things we're preparing for now."

Marinatto declined to discuss specific schools as the league continues to weigh its options for football expansion, but said the conference is considering "all models" in terms of the number of football members. He said it's important for the Big East to make its decision relating to football and basketball membership before it enters into negotiations for its next TV deal. "We need to plan accordingly, so 17 months from now, we know what we're looking to sell," he said. "We need to make those decisions well before we get to that point."

[Last modified: Monday, May 23, 2011 5:19pm]


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