College Football Daily Cavalcade: With the ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 alliance, what’s the big chip it could play to beat the SEC? Media markets.
College Football Daily Cavalcade: ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 Alliance
Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …
It should be Alliance, capitalized, and not The Alliance. To paraphrase JT, just Alliance. It’s cleaner.
This is where I’d compare this to the pro wrestling business, but I don’t know my WWWs from my WWEs.
Just how far are you willing to go with this, ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 alliance?
The alliance is coming together to combat the SEC’s master plan of world sports domination, create a more attractive option for the big media deals down the road, and to fight for better terms in the College Football Playoff expansion talks. That’s fine, but why stop there?
If you’re doing this – and I mean really doing this, and not just coming up with something to do after getting power-dunked on by the SEC …
Why not float the trial balloon threat that you might create a true super-conference? And why would you do that?
The Big Ten doesn’t have a whole lot of Big Ten-level expansion options.
Kansas would be easy, but that’s not like getting Texas and/or Oklahoma. Notre Dame isn’t happening, the ACC schools are locked into their media deal, and the Big Ten isn’t going to make a play for Pac-12 schools because … it’s not going to make a play for Pac-12 schools.
The Pac-12’s expansion options also include Kansas, to go along with Mountain West schools like San Diego State and Nevada, but that’s hardly going to get more than a yawn out of the SEC.
The ACC’s expansion options are simple – don’t lose Clemson and Florida State to the SEC.
But even with the expansion options a bit limited – remembering that this is about business and not the product on the fields and courts – the ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 alliance has one massive advantage over the SEC.
The biggest of the big media markets.
No, it’s not just about TV going forward – streaming, paywall services, and in-house networks are the play – but the alliance could make itself a whole lot bigger than an expanded SEC. That’s not to say the SEC wouldn’t be just fine, but if it wants the gargantuan coin to make it worth everyone’s while, it needs the rest of America to care, and it probably won’t if the alliance schools aren’t involved.
Why did the Big Ten want Rutgers? It’s wasn’t about getting Scarlet Knight fans. It was about getting easy clearance for all the Big Ten alumni living in New York and New Jersey who’ll watch Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, etc., and it worked out very, very well for the Big Ten Network. The same went for getting Maryland and expanding the footprint by pushing into the Baltimore/Washington DC area.
The ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 alliance would have New York (the No. 1 media market), Los Angeles (2), Chicago (3), Philadelphia (4), San Francisco/Oakland (6), Washington DC (9), Boston (10), Phoenix (11), Seattle (12), Minneapolis (14), Detroit (15), and Denver (16).
The SEC would have Dallas (5), (outside of the pocket of Georgia Tech fans) Atlanta (7), Houston (8), and (sort of) Tampa (13), but it wouldn’t have 12 of the top 16 media markets, and that’s a problem.
It gets even tougher for the SEC. Keep on going, and the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 alliance would all but own 23 of the top 30 media markets, and St. Louis (23) has a Big Ten contingent even with Missouri in the SEC.
Of course everyone all over the country would watch Alabama vs. LSU, Oklahoma vs. Florida, Texas vs. Texas A&M, and the biggest SEC games, but it’s not making Ole Miss vs. Arkansas appointment TV. Don’t discount just how much the rest of the country doesn’t care about the average SEC game – and vice versa.
Does San Francisco give a flip about college football? Not really. Are most of the major markets into pro sports more than college? Absolutely. But the numbers of those combined alliance markets are still too massive to ignore – the percentage of people in them who live and die for college sports like they do in SEC markets might not be great, but the raw numbers will be there.
So as this goes forward, alliance, why not create the nuclear deterrent of a 40+ school conference – let’s assume a further expansion to get San Diego State, Kansas, maybe Oklahoma State, maybe Iowa State, and in a perfect world, Notre Dame – that more than doubles the size of the expanded SEC and obliterates the media market share?
Threaten that, and business-wise it would just mean a whole lot more for the alliance.