Tuesday, March 31, 2009
NASCAR About To Lose The ESPN "Overflow" Channel
Once and a while The Sports Business Journal turns an eye to TV and this week it reported on some news from ESPN. It may well impact NASCAR in a couple of months.
Here are some excerpts from a story by SBJ's John Ourand:
Executives in Bristol, CT are set to allow cable and satellite distributors to swap the ESPN Classic sports channel for its college network, ESPNU, which they hope presents a newer, hipper alternative to Classic’s staid and often dated programming
ESPN Classic is in more than 63 million homes, typically on analog and digital basic tiers. By contrast, ESPNU is in about 25 million homes, mainly on digital basic tiers
A deal clearly would mostly help ESPNU, which is battling another collegiate sports channel, CBS College Sports Network, for carriage deals on the nation’s cable and satellite systems. The channel, which launched in the spring of 2005, has been at the center of ESPN’s most recent media deals.
ESPNU will pick up a significant part of ESPN’s SEC schedule and is expected to run shoulder programming that supports ESPN’s BCS package.
Click here to read Ourand's full article.
In a nutshell, ESPN is looking to encourage cable operators to carry the ESPNU Network. For those cable systems who already have ESPN Classic, there is now an easy solution to this problem. Just replace Classic with the ESPNU college channel and call it a day. All of this can now be done with ESPN's official blessing.
This move is crucial to ESPN, a company who has been on a buying spree where college television rights are concerned. Billions of dollars have been spent and just like the NASCAR situation, there are simply not enough ESPN TV networks to carry the product.
Back in early 2007, we suggested that ESPN use the Classic Network to carry NASCAR when there was a live event conflict. We were laughed off the Internet. Click here for a review of that story.
Now, two years later, ESPN Classic has become a crucial link to NASCAR TV during the college football season. This is especially true for the Nationwide Series, the only NASCAR racing series that ESPN carries from start to finish.
In this newly proposed scenario, ESPN Classic could effectively be reduced in size from over 60 million to as few as 25 million homes nationwide. Adding "the U" and dumping Classic is a no brainer to the cable systems at this point in time. The college product is hot and ESPN Classic's main fare is dated program re-airs.
Here in March, this might be a topic easily forgotten. But come September when the Nationwide Series has been racing for seven months and suddenly a college football game blocks the action on ESPN2, there may be 40 million less NASCAR fans that have any kind of solution to that problem.
TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below and follow the easy instructions. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.