For most of the sports-viewing world, the big news in the deal announced today between ESPN (NYSE: DIS) and the Bowl Championship Series is the price tag — an estimated $500 million — and the apparently inexorable move of major sports from free over-the-air broadcast to subscription-supported cable. But, as we suggested here yesterday, it includes some digital news as well: the package of exclusive TV, radio, digital, international and marketing rights from 2011 through 2014 covers broadband and mobile simulcasts.
The digital media component includes:
— the right to simulcast the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and National Championship Game on broadband service ESPN360.com and through ESPN Mobile TV. Translation: ESPN isn’t locked into providing the games that way but can.
— “significant content rights” for ESPN.com, which will take over operation of the official BCS site now managed by Fox Sports.
— ESPN VOD will distribute archived games through audio and video podcasts, in addition to affiliate VOD platforms. ESPN/ABC Sports sold condensed iTunes downloads of BCS games for $1.99 in 2006; the thrilling Texas-USC championship helped sell nearly 100,000 15-minute condensed videos in less than a week.
I have a query out on whether digital rights are included for international and will update when that answer comes in.
Update: An ESPN spokesman says the network has the same broad digital rights internationally as it does in the U.S.