Jon Wilner on CBS entering the bidding war for football broadcast rights

An interesting take:

CBS Did What?

A major development in the sports media space carries good and bad news for the Pac-12.

CBS has won the rights to broadcast the UEFA Champions League beginning in 2021, snaring the package from a slew of bidders that reportedly included ESPN and Fox.

Why it’s good for the Pac-12:

In a few years, the conference will place the rights to its football and basketball inventory up for bid. ESPN and Fox are likely candidates, but the more suitors, the better.

Per John Ourand, who covers sports media for the Sports Business Journal: “CBS’ stealth bid…has to be seen as a strong signal to the sports community that the network will become even more active in trying to get sports rights.”

Could that mean CBS plans to expand its college football package beyond the SEC Game of the Week? It’s worth monitoring.

One reason the Pac-12 landed the (current) $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox is the last-minute entry into the bidding contest by Comcast, which drove up the price.

Why it’s bad for the Pac-12: The serious suitors did not include the likes of Amazon and Google.

As Ourand noted in his newsletter, which is behind the SBJ paywall, the digital giants are “moving a lot slower in the sports business than many leagues and conferences had hoped.”

Those conferences include the Pac-12. Commissioner Larry Scott and networks president Mark Shuken have repeatedly expressed optimism that big tech will be involved in the next round of media rights – and drive the price up, up, up.

The next 24 months will be critical. The Big Ten’s media rights expire in the spring of 2023, one year earlier than the Pac-12’s rights. Negotiations for B1G inventory will likely begin in the late fall of 2021.

If Amazon and Google haven’t budged by then, they might take a hard pass on the Pac-12.

And, perhaps, open the door for CBS. – Jon Wilner