Fox is getting out of college football altogether, deciding that the BCS was not worth $500 million, so the BCS games will be moving to cable.
Starting in 2011, the BCS series will become a part of the Four-Letter Network. In its announcement that it was dropping out, Fox sounded just like the jilted lover stating "Unfortunately, the university presidents and BCS commissioners were not satisfied and they’ve decided to take their jewel events to pay television."
ESPN shot back that they are on basic cable, and right now 88% of the country (98 million homes) have ESPN already. Interestingly enough, Houston is one of the least-wired cities around. ESPN has only about 77% penetration in the Top Ten market.
Fox originally paid $330 million for the four BCS games, and ESPN ponied up $500 million for the 5-game package. There are of course several consequences to this deal.
* Forget about any kind of playoff system in the next ten years.
* The new world of TV is that the big cable conglomerate can outbid any over the air network without breaking a sweat. ESPN can afford the price tag because they get to double dip. They are already the most expensive channel for the cable outlets, as they charge almost $3 a subscriber. That assuredly will go up with this exclusive deal. And of course they get to sell advertising as well.
* Think the SEC isn't giddy about this? They are already signed, sealed and delivered to ESPN for the same time period. Get ready for the heaviest promotion of any league you have ever seen. Every SEC game on the Four Letter Network, will be promoted before, and known as The SEC On ESPN. Hell, they might even get their own half hour highlight show on Saturdays.
* ESPN already owns five bowls outright. They will now have the broadcast rights to the crown jewels. Somehow I don't think you will be seeing too many ESPN analysts arguing for a play off system any time soon.