If you are a fan of the Washington Nationals or the Georgetown Hoyas, then the name Chris Bevilacqua is one you need to know. He is the founder and CEO of Bevilacqua Media Company, perhaps the most successful television broadcast rights deal-maker in the sports business. He brought the Pac-12 a new deal with ESPN and Fox that netted the conference $3 billion and helped the Texas Rangers agree to a 20-year, $3 billion deal with Fox Sports Southwest.
He helped the Nationals value their new television "rights adjustment" deal with MASN at a reported $100 million a year. That deal is currently in the hands of a Major League Baseball panel composed of representatives from the Rays, Pirates and Mets. They are attempting to resolve the difference between MASN's offer of $35 million and Washington's demand of $100 million a year. A resolution of the issue, initially expected in June, is likely to come before the end of the season.
Meanwhile, Bevilacqua is now working with the Big East to get its new media deal in place but took some time Tuesday to talk about that and sports media rights in general.
Why the drastic increase in college sports rights?
Bevilacqua » "College sports media rights have been undervalued across the board for years. The Big East, like other major conferences, provides over 2,600 hours of valuable content to a network. But no matter if it is football, basketball or baseball, all of those programs have a built-in audience. Sports is the life blood of cable television and their digital platforms. If you want to watch a movie or a TV program, you have Netflix, Hulu or a number of sources. But if you want see major college sports, it's going to be on cable television, and the networks know they need to pay for good content that comes with built-in viewers."
What is your pitch for the Big East?
Bevilacqua » "The Big East has a number of key things going for them. They are the last of the major conferences to do a new media deal. Their football product is solid, their basketball is the best in college sports, and they have a great new mix of traditional brand-name members to go with some of the fastest growing universities in the country. Then, no other conference in the country spans all four time zones and offers advertisers more top-25 media markets. The Big East is built to become the first true national conference, and that will serve them well in our talks with the networks. In the end, this comes down to network competition. ESPN, Fox, Turner, Comcast/NBC and CBS all need and want more quality live sports content to fuel their networks. We have quality content. The networks know that, and in the end I feel confident we will get a contract worthy of the Big East."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!, on washingtonexaminer.com.