As we know, TV is the driving force behind the huge boost in money flowing through sports. Or more specifically, cable TV. But as this article reminds, the cable model relies on bundling, and the inflation in sports money is behind the surge in bills.
We were surprised to learn that AMC has more viewers than ESPN.
At some point, between cord cutting and technological disruption and perhaps the courts or FCC regulations, the model will break. What then?
The PAC-12 is getting some idea.
The conference very much wants its network to be on DirectTV, but so far, DirectTV isn't biting. And the PAC-12 is getting pretty irritable, if not a bit panicky, about the whole situation, telling fans they should give up DirectTV and move to systems which are accommodating the conference.
One dose of non-technical reality: the PAC-12 is coming up against the reality of so-called Eastern bias.
It's a real thing, but it's not about bias, it's about the fact that 60% of the U.S. population lives east of the Mississippi. The conference's primary market is obviously in the West, but their competition is national. The package is not as appealing nationally and so the conference is getting West Coast revenue.
All of this underscores the notion that the ACC is late to the cable party. As John Swofford rightly points out, the ACC has a hugely valuable footprint, running from Florida to Boston. But it's all built around the current cable model. For that matter, that's the exact motivation for Maryland joining the Big Ten.
By all means, the conference should explore cable solutions. But they should also carefully consider what might replace it, and the considerable disruptions that may occur, including, but not limited to, potentially much smaller revenues.
In fact, if Swofford is as smart as people think he is, if he's the ninja commissioner and all of that, he's already sought out and hired people who specifically are studying the disruptive potential of various technologies and approaches.
Because the current model is unsustainable.