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Report Finds NCAA Undervalues Women’s Basketball TV Rights

The review claims the Women’s NCAA Tournament could bring in $81-$112 million per year.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: NCAA

A gender equity review of the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament structures came out this week, and the findings aren’t flattering for the NCAA. The organization tasked the Kaplan, Hecker, & Fink law firm with the review. The firm found that the NCAA is “significantly undervaluing women’s basketball as an asset.”

The NCAA lumped in the women’s tournament with the other 28 Championships in a deal with ESPN that expires after the 2023-24 school year. The NCAA netted $500 million over ten years for that package of championships, while the men’s tournament just recently got an extension deal worth $8.8 billion.

An independent analysis from Ed Desser cited in the report claims the women’s tournament could bring in between $81 and $112 million per year when the current ESPN deal expires. The report also cited branding as a way the women are undervalued.

Restricting the “March Madness” logo to only the men’s tournament affects the marketing power placed behind the women’s event, not to mention the “weight room” scandal that rocked the NCAA at this year’s event. The women were given a rack of barbells while the men had access to a full-scale weight room.

The report dug up the idea that holding the two events at the same Final Four location could curb some of the equity issues. Stating one location for both finals can make it easier “from a monitoring perspective since it would be a lot easier to determine whether hotel rooms, food, locker, and weight room facilities, or signage are comparable if they are all in the same city.”

The NCAA responded to the report with the statement below:

“The NCAA Board of Governors is wholly committed to an equitable experience among its championships. We know that has not always been the case and the instance of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship is an important impetus for us to improve our championship experience so it is not repeated. This report provides useful guidance to improve our championships. We have directed the NCAA president to act urgently to address any organizational issues. We have also called him to begin work this week with the three divisions and appropriate committees to outline next steps, develop recommendations and effectuate change. We will continue to review and process the recommendations in the gender equity report as we move forward to strengthen championships for all student-athletes.”

Sports TV News

ESPN Asked NHL For More Games on Linear TV

“It’s something that ESPN pushed for. But to the extent that ESPN was looking to make an adjustment for Year 2, we’re pleased to have the ongoing exposure.”

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The 2021-2022 NHL season was the first of a new media rights deal that saw the league’s games air nationally on ESPN and TNT.

The 2022-2023 season will see more games on linear television, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says that’s from ESPN’s insistence.

When asked by Sports Business Journal‘s Alex Silverman about a noticeably larger linear television schedule for the upcoming season, Bettman said “We’re happy to have it, but it’s something that ESPN pushed for. But to the extent that ESPN was looking to make an adjustment for Year 2, we’re pleased to have the ongoing exposure. Although, last year and the way things were balanced was a terrific year for us. Ratings were up, viewership was up, connectivity on all platforms for our fans was up. And ESPN and Turner have done an incredible job, and we’re grateful to be with them.”

Last season, ESPN and ABC only aired 28 games on linear television, 18 airing on ESPN or ESPN2 and 10 on ABC. 75 regular season games were exclusive to ESPN+ and Hulu.

This year, 52 games will air between the two networks with 37 games on ESPN or ESPN2 and 15 games on ABC. The Walt Disney Company has exclusive rights to 103 NHL broadcasts during the 2022-2023 season, including the opening night double header, the All-Star Skills Competition and All-Star Game, and the NHL Stadium Series.

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Sports TV News

FOX Ends MLB Regular Season Coverage With Highest Audience of Season

FOX reeled in 2,657,000 viewers for its two game slate (Rays-Astros or Mets-Braves).

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MLB on FOX

FOX’s regular season coverage of MLB ended so strongly that it featured the best Saturday night baseball telecast on the network all season.

FOX reeled in 2,657,000 viewers for its two game slate (Rays-Astros or Mets-Braves). The Mets-Braves series was a battle of two teams trying to win the National League East division.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Unveils New NBA Graphics Package, Theme Song

The network unveiled a new scorebug, with colors for each team corresponding to what uniform they are wearing.

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As ESPN prepares for the upcoming NBA season, the network unveiled a new graphics package and theme song Tuesday.

The network unveiled a new scorebug, with colors for each team corresponding to what uniform they are wearing.

“Leading creative initiatives like this one are exactly what we envisioned when we created ESPN’s groundbreaking in-house Creative Studio almost two years ago,” said Carrie Brzezinski-Hsu, Vice President, ESPN Creative Studio. “We take sports from game to experience. It takes a dynamic collective of creative capabilities and storytellers to make fans feel like they are part of the game.”

“Like everything involving the NBA on ESPN, this has been a total team effort,” said Tim Corrigan, Vice President, Production. “We were thrilled to collaborate with our ESPN Creative Studio group to bring this new look and feel to life. It’s big, bold and contemporary and we can’t wait for fans to see it.”

The network has also unveiled new theme music for the upcoming season.

ESPN partnered with Made Music Studios for “the next evolution” of the NBA on ESPN’s sound.  The network says “Made Music created a hip hop-based concept with the power and energy synonymous with ESPN’s NBA Productions”.

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