We are less than a week away from the opening of college football’s bowl season. And most people think the bowl games are ruled with an iron fist by the NCAA and the BCS.But there is a third party that has an even bigger influence: Disney.
The Walt Disney Co. owns ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU. And this year, 33 of the 35 bowl games will be broadcast on one of those four networks, including all five of the BCS games.
The only two games not under Mickey’s spell are the Sun Bowl (CBS) and Cotton Bowl (FOX).
The 33 bowl games (94%) is up from last year when Disney owned the broadcast rights to 27 of 34 (79%) games. In 2008, Disney aired 25 of 34 (74%) of the bowl games.
The network that has taken the biggest hit is FOX. In 2008, FOX owned the broadcast rights to five bowl games, including four of the BCS bowl games. Also, the NFL Network aired two games in 2008 and one game last year. But this season, the NFL Network is out of the college bowl game business.
So next time you hear one of ESPN’s talking heads discussing the pros and cons of a college football playoff system, keep in mind that it is ESPN’s checks that the BCS is cashing. If ESPN wanted a playoff system, there would be a playoff system.
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