On Wednesday, Arkansas AD Jeff Long said that the SEC’s athletic directors requested that ads for DraftKings and FanDuel be removed from the network. Perhaps shockingly, ESPN complied with the request.
Long says the SEC ADs requested that FanDuel/DraftKings ads be removed from the SEC Network, despite the loss of revenue.
— Andrew Hutchinson (@NWAHutch) September 23, 2015
Arkansas AD Jeff Long says SEC officials requested fantasy sports' advertising be removed from SEC Network, and ESPN did so.
— Kurt Voigt (@Kurt_Voigt_AP) September 23, 2015
There’s no immediate word on whether or not the request only applied to ads that promoted the daily college games, or if it applied to all DFS ads. Over the weekend, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott made a bold claim by saying the Pac-12 Network wouldn’t accept DFS ads on the network, but later clarified his comments by saying they would only accept DFS ads that didn’t advertise their college games.
ESPN had to feel just a tad bit uncomfortable with this request. They’re involved in a massive advertising partnership with DraftKings, and SEC Network has been valued at over $4 billion less than a year after its launch.
But when it comes to a network like say, ESPNU, there really isn’t any recourse for schools – they don’t have an ownership stake in the network, and ESPN can do whatever the hell they want in regards to advertising on a network focusing on (in theory, at least) college sports. They also really can’t do much of anything aside from ask ESPN nicely when it comes to games on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS, so their options are limited. But when a conference network is involved, you’d better believe the ADs and other conference personnel will get involved.
Will the Big Ten Network be the next domino to fall? We’ll see.