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John Skipper Says Four Super Conferences Are Coming

“…the Big10, who I believe just added the most populous state in the United States to their footprint, which I think has gone underrecognized in this move.”

Ricky Keeler

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With the reported moves of USC and UCLA going to the Big 10 in 2024, many have shared their opinions on what it means for college football going forward. One person who was at the heart of negotiating TV deals for college football and college basketball was the former president of ESPN, John Skipper.

Skipper was a guest on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on Thursday and he made the point that an “arms race” is developing in college sports and it is clear that the Big 10 and SEC have emerged as the two leaders:

“Now we are in kind of an arms race where everybody wants to move to a conference in order to get more money. We are coming to an era of diminishing returns in terms of just being able to move somewhere and get a bunch more money. I think it’s clear the Big 10 and SEC have emerged as the dominant players here, particularly in terms of ratings and achievement on the football field.

The SEC’s rights are tied up until 2034 and the Big 10 is probably going to have 2 new rounds of rights negotiations before 2034, so they are in a very good position to get more money. With the streamers looking to come in, they look to take advantage of that as well.”

One of the things Skipper doesn’t think is being talked about enough in realignment is what states these schools are in and how it can help a network gain more money. He remembers first-hand the deal he negotiated with the ACC when Pittsburgh, Boston College, Syracuse, and Louisville joined the conference:

“One of the more important ones we did was with the ACC. One of the big moves made was when the ACC was in danger of losing its basketball prominence to the Big East and not seeing the same kind of increases the Big 10 and SEC were. They went and took Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Boston College, and Louisville to the ACC.”

“One of the most important factors is what state they are in. For the ACC, Big 10, and SEC, all of whom have their own well-distributed networks. Pittsburgh, Boston College, Louisville and Syracuse both created a diminution of competition in the Big East, but it also added Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and Kentucky to the footprint of the ACC. Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts represent quite a lot of population and those network deals are paid based on footprint and non-footprint. One price for the state and where the subscribers live within the footprint and the price if they don’t live in the footprint. I expect that to be the case with the Big10, who I believe just added the most populous state in the United States to their footprint, which I think has gone underrecognized in this move.” 

So, what could be in the future for college sports? Skipper gave out the hypothetical that if he were running the ACC, for example, he would try to see if four super conferences were forming and what it could mean for both college football and basketball:

“I would be calling around to see if there are going to be four super conferences of 16 or so teams, which I think there will be. How about we create four super conferences and do our own basketball tournament? I also think if you created four, 16-team conferences, you have 32 bowls and every team in the conferences would go to a bowl and you might even use those bowls to play the First Round of a very expansive College Football Playoff. There’s plenty of ways to get more money in addition to trying to figure out what can be done with Amazon and Apple.”

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Holly Rowe Signs Long-Term Extension With ESPN

“I feel like I am living my best life and I am so grateful to ESPN for letting me keep doing this.”

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ESPN reporter Holly Rowe has signed a multi-year extension to remain with the company.

Rowe works as a sideline reporter for ESPN/ABC’s coverage of college football — including the College Football Playoffs, the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and the Women’s College World Series, among other high-profile assignments.

“I feel like I am living my best life and I am so grateful to ESPN for letting me keep doing this,” Rowe told The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch.

Earlier this year, Rowe was named the 2023 Curt Gowdy Media Award winner from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for her electronic media work.

Rowe joined ESPN in 1998, and signed her last contract extension with the network in 2018 shortly before she announced she had undergone her final chemotherapy treatment in August of that year after a melanoma diagnosis in 2016.

According to Deitsch, Rowe’s contract was set to expire next month.

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Mike Florio: The NFL Will Have Games 7 Days a Week & Will Expand To Make it Happen

“So if you wanna increase the total number of games so you can have games Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Friday night, Saturday night, at some point you need more teams to get more games.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Could you picture NFL games on every night of the week from September to January? ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio thinks it’ll happen in his lifetime.

In an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, Florio said it’s inevitable that we’ll see the league play games every night.

“I think sooner than later we’re gonna have Tuesday Night Football, we’re gonna have Wednesday Night Football,” he said. “It’s gonna be hopefully in my lifetime a seven day a week, primetime event. There’s too much money to be made.”

“I would love to have football on every night of the week,” Florio added. “It would be nice to have a night or two off. Like Friday night and Saturday night would be nice, but I’d be fine with Tuesday and Wednesday.”

How does Florio think the NFL will get to the point of playing seven days a week during the season? Expansion. And the league has already expressed interest in establishing franchises in Europe.

“I think they’re gonna start moving that number from 32 to in time 34, 36, 38 eventually 40,” Florio said. “Quarterbacks is the key. Is there ever gonna be enough quarterbacks to have 40 NFL teams? But I think that would be the ultimate maximum number.”

Even McAfee added that an 18th NFL regular season game will be coming sooner rather than later. Florio said in order to justify the need for one more game, expansion is the answer.

“When it comes to the inventory, 18 games is the most they’re gonna get away with,” Florio said. “So if you wanna increase the total number of games so you can have games Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Friday night, Saturday night, at some point you need more teams to get more games.”

“If the money’s there to be made by the owners, they’ll deal with it,” he added.

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Nick Khan: We Hope Pat McAfee Wants To Do More With WWE

“The world is his oyster.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Pat McAfee continues to be on hiatus from his obligations to WWE. As the media star and father-to-be weighs options for the future of his daily sports show and other dealings, WWE’s CEO wants McAfee to keep wrestling in the mix.

Appearing on The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast, WWE CEO Nick Khan said with the company’s signature live event this weekend, WrestleMania, don’t expect McAfee to show up like he did in January at the Royal Rumble.

“We have no plans to have him there this weekend,” Khan said.

Co-host Andrew Marchand asked how WWE handles talks with McAfee, who is believed to be ending his relationship with FanDuel two years into a four-year $120 million contract. WWE has a relationship with NBCUniversal, with WWE Network and its massive library of content being absorbed into Peacock in 2021. McAfee has since been replaced at the SmackDown announce table by former WWE superstar Wade Barrett.

“The world is his oyster,” Khan said. “He’s 36 years old and look at his relevancy factor when you talk to young children, as I have two young children. When I talk to them it’s often McAfee, McAfee, McAfee. That’s what’s in the wheelhouse for them. So if you look at any of the traditional buyers, what do they want? They want a young, diverse audience. What does McAfee bring? He brings a young, diverse audience.”

Khan noted how McAfee tends to not get overly political or controversial with his show and how he’s developed relationships with athletes like Aaron Rodgers and gives them a platform to speak freely without condemnation.

“He’s not looking to annihilate anybody, or crucify them,” he said. “He’s looking to have good content, and his content has been terrific. He’ll determine ultimately where he wants his home to be. And our hope is that he does more with us.”

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