Oct. 02, 2016
A New Power 6 Conference, Why Not?
In a perfect world all FBS college football programs would be treated equally by content providers like ESPN and Fox Sports. Currently college football is financially divided into the Power 5 have's, and the Group of 5 have not's. Until recently cable companies had a stranglehold on sports content, but now other options are coming online. Companies like Sling TV, Amazon, Twitter, beIN Sports, and Netflix are looking to expand into sports programming in a big way. Right now ESPN is the big dog calling all the shots. But the times they are a changing.
Conference USA was the first to diversify setting up deals with smaller content providers like the American Sports Network, and beIn Sports. True this was a deal made of necessity when Fox Sports pulled out of C-USA, and they have taken a financial haircut, but they have also increase their exposure. Now C-USA will not only have many more football games available to its fans, but will also have more basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, and softball available. This is a good first step for C-USA, but it still keeps them beholden to cable content providers. A C-USA fan must still purchase a sports package through their cable company to receive this content. Many C-USA fans want C-USA content only.
The next logical step for all Group of 5 conferences is to cut the cable, and go with online streaming packages. Conferences could set up exclusive package deals with Amazon to stream all their content completely bypassing cable companies. No more purchasing content fans don't want just to get the content they do want. No more standing at ESPN's front door hat in hand waiting for equal treatment. ESPN has the Power 5 programs they want already, and obviously have no interest in the Group of 5 beyond filling up their bowl game schedule. In fact rumor has it that they are actively discouraging the BIg 12 on expansion. Which brings us to G5 conference realignment.
Currently there are plenty of G5 programs worthy of Power 5 inclusion. These programs have rabid fans and are located in some of the largest sports markets nationwide. The Big 12 invited most of these schools to make presentations for inclusion in their conference. If the Big 12 believes they are worthy of Power 5 consideration then they are worthy enough to start their own Power 6 conference. In fact why not call it the Power 6 Conference. The AAC likes to consider itself a unofficial Power 5 conference, and they do have some Power 5 worthy programs, but so do the other G5 conferences. Unfortunately they are spread out among all the many different conferences. Here's the solution.
All the G5 programs that are P5 worthy, like those invited to make Big 12 presentations, but are being excluded from expansion, should start their own Power 6 conference. Yes they would have to buy their way out of their current conferences, but they would also be breaking free of the terrible contracts they currently live under. They would be free to negotiate new contracts with Amazon, Twitter, or Netflix to stream all their content, cutting the cable cord forever. Be assured that ESPN would step in quickly with a new contract offer if teams in large TV markets like Houston, Rice, SMU, Tulane, UCF, Cincinatti, UConn, Ohio, Buffalo, SanDiego State, Army, Navy, and Air Force, start their own conference.
These are just 12 worthy teams, but their are enough worthy teams for a 16 or 18 team super conference. Even if ESPN steps in with a new offer they should be wary of sticking their necks in that noose once again. Streaming target specific online content is the wave of the future. Why not get in on the ground floor.