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Sportico Finds NCAA Severely Undervalues Women’s Tournament TV Rights

“Sportico reports the women’s tournament receives just 15.9% of the NCAA ESPN contract, despite being one of the most-watched events in the deal. So when the women’s tournament is listed as operating at a loss, it’s calculated based on an allocated number, not their individually earned revenue.”

Brandon Contes

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It’s not surprising to see the NCAA earns significantly more in TV revenue from it’s men’s basketball tournament than it’s women’s. But according to a report by Sportico, the gap would be lessened if the NCAA sold it’s women’s basketball tournament properly. 

Recently publicized data from the NCAA showed a $917.8 million profit for it’s men’s basketball championship and a $2.8 million loss for the women’s event in 2019. And although the men’s tournament generates much stronger viewership, part of why it’s so financially successful is the NCAA’s decision to sell it as a singular TV package while the women’s basketball championship receives a small portion of a larger media contract. 

Sold on its own, Turner and CBS pay around $771 million annually for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The women’s event is part of a 14-year $500 million deal with ESPN featuring more than 20 NCAA championships from various sports. 

Sportico reports the women’s tournament receives just 15.9% of the NCAA ESPN contract, despite being one of the most-watched events in the deal. So when the women’s tournament is listed as operating at a loss, it’s calculated based on an allocated number, not their individually earned revenue. If sold as a separate package, its value could as much as triple the 15.9% they currently receive from the larger deal. 

Included in the package is NIT basketball which averaged 1 million viewers for its championship game between 2015-2019, while the women’s title averaged an audience of 3.1 million. Of the $500 million TV deal, the women’s basketball tournament earned $6.1 million, about 50% more than the NIT despite tripling its viewership. 

The NCAA has already taken a lot of flak for varying levels of treatment for its men’s and women’s basketball players this year – and rightfully so with shocking disparities in the bubble accommodations for each tournament. 

This isn’t a discussion of equal pay for male and female athletes because as you may have heard, student athletes don’t receive financial compensation. But it’s a question of whether or not the NCAA maximizes its business potential for women’s basketball. 

Sports TV News

Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.

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NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.

Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.

Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.

He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.

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ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.

Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.

The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.

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Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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