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Big East Talking Smack To SEC, ACC over Men's Basketball Syndication Base?

Monday, January 4, 2010 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 12:50 PM, under , , , , , ,

Last week we published information on the BIG EAST Network men's basketball syndication package. It was noted, with a head scratch, that the syndication package included Los Angeles for the first time. It looks like the addition of LA allows the BIG EAST to talk smack over the reach of their TV package.
Over on the Sports Video Group web site, assistant editor Jason Dachman includes this in his blog post on the reach of the package:

The 2009-10 Big East Network Game of the Week basketball package is currently available to nearly 50 television markets throughout 24 states, according to ESPN Regional Television and the Big East Conference.  The package represents the most widespread coverage of any regionally syndicated college basketball network, covering nearly 50 million households (41% of the U.S.)...

...“With a reach that includes more than one-third of the nation’s households – and still growing – no regional syndicated television package provides more exposure than ESPN Regional’s Big East Network Game of the Week,” says Big East Commissioner John Marinatto. “Fans in markets that stretch across the country can continue to count on seeing the best of Big East basketball at the same time each week during the season.”

Those numbers are indeed staggering as a percentage of TV housholds. But underneath those "eye candy" numbers, what does it really mean? Let's look at the top four TV Markets that the BIG EAST games will be going to:

Designated Market Area (DMA) 
TV Households
% of US

New York, NY
Los Angeles, CA
Chicago, IL
Philadelphia, PA


The BIG EAST has first and foremost always been a conference made for television. The teams were strategically located around major television markets in the northeast corridor. And then expansion came, and more strategic cities/markets were added to the picture. Just looking at the numbers above, three of the top four markets with BIG EAST teams make up a considerable chunk of the numbers being touted by the BIG EAST and ESPN Regional.

As discussed last week, the totals of what ESPN Regional and the BIG EAST announced came to about only 45 million households. So these 4 markets alone contribute 43% of the television households being touted by the BIG EAST.

With this potential audience, they are talking about a package of 12 weekly syndicated games. This pales in comparison to the SEC Syndication package that will broadcast every game to targeted markets. And with the games being aired live in the noon time frame on the East Coast, one has to wonder just how much impact the addition of the Los Angeles-based west coast audience will contribute to the final numbers.

From top to bottom, the BIG EAST has a much more solid and compelling package to offer viewers than the SEC. And the games they have selected for broadcast in the package a good, if not great match-ups. But should games like this past weekend's Syracuse- Pitt game be relegated to syndication instead of a national broadcast? (Editor's Note: As a loyal BIG EAST fan, I would much rather watch that game than any other hoops game that may have been on at the same time).

So is the BIG EAST hype around this package more about their ability to reach fans, or reach recruits in the bigger cities? Clearly they have a much more national recruiting base than most teams in either the ACC or SEC. The expansion of the package may give them a recruiting advantage in some respects.

But as far as advertising dollars and ratings? The jury will have to stay out on that for the rest of the season. Then people can take a look at which conference's syndication model was more successful.

Meanwhile, the conferences can just continue to talk smack.

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