NBC Sports Network shut out again? ESPN likely to retain Big East

Remember the scene when the Grinch snares the last crumb from the fireplace, leaving the poor people of Whoville with nothing?

That’s the image I have of ESPN with NBC Sports Network.

It appears as if NBC Sports Network won’t be getting the Big East. Reports are that ESPN is finalizing a deal with the conference.

From ESPN’s Brett McMurphy:

The Big East and ESPN are finalizing a seven-year media rights deal worth $130 million through the 2019-20 school year, league sources told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy on Thursday.

Last week, the Big East received an official offer from NBC Sports Network, but since ESPN is currently the primary rights holder it had one week to match NBC’s offer to retain the Big East’s rights.

ESPN matched the financial aspect, sources said. However, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco must be satisfied ESPN’s deal matches NBC Sports Network’s offer in all facets. Once that is concluded, the Big East presidents must approve the new deal. They could vote on accepting the deal as early as this weekend, sources said.

To compound matters for NBC Sports Network, John Ourand of Street & Smith’s Sports Business Daily reports ESPN ” is likely to sublicense a significant amount of games to other networks, such as Fox Sports, which is launching Fox Sports 1 this summer.”

Fox Sports 1 also is likely to land a TV with the new Catholic 7 schools which are breaking away from the Big East to form its own conference.

Losing the Big East is another blow for NBC Sports Network in its bid to add more high-profile sports programming. Not that the gutted Big East is high profile anymore.

I still think the revised conference might be better on NBC Sports Network, where it would get the No. 1 treatment. It has worked well for the NHL. At ESPN, the Big East will be at the back of the line.

Perhaps the Big East presidents, what’s left of them, will see it that way. However, it doesn’t seem likely.

It appears as if the big bad Grinch, ESPN, has left NBC Sports Network with nothing again.





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