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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

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Paying Nearly $45 Billion For Rights Fees Through 2027

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually

Jordan Bondurant

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The last year or two has been evident that the price of rights to airing major college and professional sporting events on television are only going up. But the various networks either with longstanding relationships with leagues and conferences or looking to break into the media rights landscape are willing to pay up. That’s no more evident with Disney, which will be shelling out tens of billions of dollars to have regular season and postseason events air on ESPN.

According to Sportico, which reviewed Disney’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ESPN is set to spend $44.9 billion on sports media rights through 2027.

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually. Additionally, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion through the 2024-25 season for NBA rights.

The Sportico report noted ESPN will generate more than $8.1 billion in affiliate revenue to help offset those costs. The network will soon be entering talks to renew its media rights deal to be the exclusive home for nearly all NCAA Division I championships, as well as engaging in new NBA rights negotiations.

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Sports TV News

Return of Bob Iger Puts Pac-12 ‘Not Exactly In A Great Place’

“I think it’s even more evident it’s not gonna happen. These places aren’t gonna spend big money on the Pac-12.”

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The Pac-12 is currently in a media rights negotiation with partners for its next TV deal after the departure of USC and UCLA. The conference has remained committed to the stance that it feels it can match the dollar amount given to the Big 12 from FOX and ESPN. However, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post isn’t so confident.

During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast, Marchand said the recent return of Bob Iger as Disney CEO, coupled with recent layoffs from Amazon, could spell bad news for the PAC 12’s quest to match what the Big 12 received.

“Do I still think they can get the same number as the Big 12? I do, but you start thinking about where this is going and that’s not exactly a great place to be if you’re the Pac-12. They might get the number, but the idea that they’ll get a lot more than the Big 12 — which I’ve already said is not gonna happen — I think it’s even more evident it’s not gonna happen. These places aren’t gonna spend big money on the Pac-12…I think there’s some rough waters out in the Pacific.”

Marchand said if the University of California Board of Regents won’t allow UCLA to join the Big Ten as expected, the conference would then set its sights on Washington and Oregon, which would continue to decimate the Pac-12.

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