The scuttlebutt in and around the Sports Media World this afternoon is the very interesting development that the BCS is seriously considering accepting ESPN/ABC’s bid, and a move away from FOX Sports. From John Ourand at SBJ via the Sporting News….

The BCS is considering a proposal from ESPN that would see all BCS bowl games, including the championship game, wind up on ESPN, sources familiar with the negotiations are saying. If the BCS ultimately accepts the bid, it would mark the first time all games in a major championship were not available on an over-the-air broadcast network. If the BCS opts to move to ESPN, it would continue a trend that has seen other leagues migrate playoff series exclusively from broadcast to cable. MLB, the NBA and the NHL all have placed playoff games on cable over the past few years. If ABC/ESPN ultimately wins the bid and moves even one BCS game to ESPN, it would trigger a clause in its Rose Bowl contract that would allow it to immediately take the annual game in Pasadena from its home of 21 years on ABC to the cable channel.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. While ESPN probably offered a number that’s way higher than FOX would or did, under the current contract the BCS still has to present FOX with a number first. The network can either accept or refuse, and if they don’t accept, the rights go out on the open market. The number that’s being thrown around is a $500 million, 4-year deal, which would constitute a 50% hike over last year’s price to FOX.

Even though FOX’s broadcast and presentation of the BCS is terrible, the network still gets great ratings and advertising dollars from the four games. With this year’s regular season shaping up like a virtual playoff system, those numbers and dollars are only going to go up. It would seem tough for them to give a cash cow like that up, but ESPN has been kicking themselves for losing the rights before (rightfully so), and might make an offer FOX just can’t compete with. Plus if you add in the fact that FOX hasn’t been letting ESPN rebroadcast BCS game highlights for the past few years, it might be safe to say the “Leader” could be holding a grudge.

I’ve personally been hoping for this move for the past two years, but didn’t think it was likely leading up to this year’s negotiations. I think my feeling today has changed from doubtful to…..”So you’re telling me there’s a chance?!” Everyone keep your fingers crossed.

BCS considering moving games from Fox to ESPN (Sporting News)

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