In what is looking like a precursor of things to come with the death of the BCS, SBD reports ESPN has agreed to pay $80 million per season for the rights to the Rose Bowl from 2015 to 2026. ESPN is currently paying just $30 mllion for the game, and the new contract represents a massive increase in rights for the game, and will affect on other bowl games as well.
ESPN is currently paying $125 million for the rights to the BCS Championship Game, and in the fall, they will have an exclusive 30 day window for working out a deal for the semifinals and finals of the new playoff system before they go onto the market. ESPN will not have exclusive rights for the brand new Champions Bowl (the Big 12-SEC matchup) and the Orange Bowl, which have separate contracts. The Champions Bowl to draw a numerical figure similar to that of the Rose Bowl, while the Orange Bowl will fetch less due to the variable, at-large nature of one of the spots in the game.
By aggressively locking up the Rose Bowl, ESPN is attempting to put a stranglehold on the bowl season and push other networks onto the back burner. There are a lot of negotiations going on here, due to the necessity of four contracts for the bowls, and a solid part of the money in the Rose, Champions, and Orange Bowls going directly to the conferences involved (Big 10, Pac-12, Big 12, SEC, ACC) as opposed to being shared with all conferences, like will be necessary in the contract for the semifinals and finals.
The desires of the commissioners appear to be having all of the bowls on the same network, which in this case, would be ESPN. If things get jumbled like they did when Fox had the BCS rights a few years ago, things may get complicated for the conferences, fans, and networks. This is one of those rare times where it might be in our best interests to have ESPN rule the world.
[h/t: Sports Business Daily]