Lately we've been watching how things are developing with the PayTV industry. The basics: 1) sports networks are the most expensive part of any package; 2) the subscriber base is in decline; 3) it's an industry ripe for disruption with deep implications for things like conference networks and large payouts.
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Latest development: Sony and Viacom are set to put Viacom's most popular channels online (presumably in addition to anyone who subscribes to a TV service).
Here's a thought for someone like the Southern Conference or the Ivy or maybe the MAC: why not give your basketball games a shot this way?
Obviously the big conferences have commitments all over the place, but the smaller conferences? Imagine the Ivy for a moment (you know who you are at Ivy HQ reading this site and so do we): you are a secondary athletic conference in major metro markets. Try putting your games online, charge enough to cover it and see what happens.
The conference could also add some sort of a running stat program, a way for viewers to talk to each other and a few other easily added features and just see what happens. Our prediction: a solid base would develop quickly, and a loyal one too.
Sony plans to run its service through Playstation, which makes sense. Naturally, if this takes off, costs will go up and no one is talking much about unbundling - but if you are getting Internet and cable for a reasonable price, that's not the worst thing in the world. It could be structured to save consumers money.