This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
The details are still sketchy and the official announcement has yet to be made by ESPN (NYSE: DIS) and the Bowl Championship Series Group but Fox Sports said today that it will not be hosting the premiere college football games after its current contract expires in 2010. That leaves ESPN, which I'm told is willing to pay $125 million annually for four years to carry the games. This amount has not been confirmed with ESPN but represents the 50 percent increase the BCS governors are said to be seeking. Fox, which is paying $82.5 million a year currently, offered about $100 million a year during its exclusive renewal period. The BCS opened negotiations with ESPN, then, as per the current deal, returned to Fox with the material differences, which decided none of them-- including the addition of international rightswere worth the considerable uptick in price.
The Fox contract covers three bowls and the championship game; ESPN/ABC already has the rights to the Rose Bowl. As SBD reported last week, moving any of the other games to cable would allow the Rose Bowl to be movedwhich could put all five major bowl games on cable for the first time starting in 2011.
So what is ESPN getting? Like we said, the details are still sketchy but Fox already has some digital rights. This deal includes those and likely expands them. Not sure yet if the international rights include digital but, given ESPN's recent deals, it would be surprising if that's not the case.
By Staci D. Kramer