Sports Illustrated continues to express optimistic television estimates for the hoops-first, Big East breakaway league. Will it all pan out? Who would they need to add to get there?
Before Syracuse and Pittsburgh left the Big East and the league began it's slide toward oblivion, the Catholic 7 schools and Notre Dame were hoping to double their television take to around $3 million per year -- maybe more. In the iteration of the Big East conference that will effectively end after this season, there was plenty of basketball inventory (at least 16 teams and an 18-game schedule) and maybe a few games that could draw top-end college basketball ratings.
The Catholic 7 currently don't have much of either of those. There will be a couple of hyped-up league games, of course, but they will need to add schools to get inventory. Of course, all indications have suggested that the league will have at least 10 members, and possibly more.
Sports Illustrated claims that the Catholic 7 could be targeting a television package that would pay as much as $3 million per year — close to the amount that those schools were looking to get from the old Big East.
The Sports Illustrated story also reports that sports super-broadcaster, ESPN, hasn't been expressing interest in the Catholic 7's league. There is a chance that they could purchase some subset of the league's rights for a game or two here and there, but the Worldwide Leader doesn't appear poised to bid for the entire package.
The same story indicates that Fox Sports would be potentially interested in buying all or some of the rights for the network (potentially with an eye to repackage and sell some of the content to other broadcasters). If that happens, the league's games would help fill the airtime on the Fox Sports 1 Network that the SPEED network will eventually turn into as well as the Fox College Sports networks and perhaps some of the regional Fox networks.
NBC/Comcast would potentially also make a play for the TV rights. They are interested in acquiring more college sports content to fill time on their upstart national network, and offer some regional cable outlets capable of picking up additional games. Until things like membership, scheduling and corporate formation are settled, however, the actual level of interest in the league will be hard to pt a dollar-amount on.
As Villanova athletic director Vince Nicastro told VUhoops earlier this week, it may be too premature to discuss television models and valuation at this point. League membership hasn't been settled, nor has the starting date for the launch of the conference — the C7 owe 27 months notice, but negotiation or further conference shifting could cause that to change.
As for membership, Butler and Xavier remain very likely to be included. After that Creighton and Dayton (and yes, they rhyme) have been reported as clubhouse leaders to join by SI, with St. Louis right behind them. The Sports Illustrated report believes that the C7 are now leaning for at least 12 members to maximize their earning potential with greater inventory.
Other names the the article mentioned were VCU, Davidson and St. Josephs. Both St. Joes and Dayton would likely receive some opposition from Villanova and Xavier, respectively. Davidson and St. Joes are probably two of the less-likely names mentioned, however.