I've had an ongoing discussion with one of my best friends for the last few months, whether it is through email or in-person conversation. I'll summarize this, but it basically started back when Maryland and Rutgers decided to bolt for the B1G. He went to Pitt and follows them religiously (although he does root for OSU since 3 of his closest friends went there) and he didn't understand why we would add teams that are typically poor performers (either football or basketball). When I explained to him that it is all about viewership and extending the markets for B1G teams, he argued back that Maryland and Rutgers are easily 2 of the worst viewerships on the East coast of any BCS school and even mentioned how ESPN rarely wants to air them. I assumed he would know that I meant the BTN, so I explained that to him. He seemingly understood and agreed to an extent, although he still feels that adding those 2 will still hurt the B1G perception in the long run and not do any good. But then today he sends me this link...
It's an interesting read on what many believe, and myself included, is an eventual shift in subscriptions for networks, whether they are the large ones of ABC, NBC, or CBS or cable like TBS, ESPN, CNN, etc. If this eventually moves to a "pay for the channels you want" concept, how does this affect the B1G and the BTN down the road? My argument, while it was lengthy, I'll keep it short here, is that you can't base how your business is currently running based on the perceived notion that the direction of television may change at some point. There's no way to tell what will change and how it will change. The BTN's business model should remain the same for now, but also having an eye on what may happen. I also reiterated a previous notion that I also still feel that the B1G is going after 2 more schools to get it to 16 and that Maryland and Rutgers are just stepping stones for the time being.
Back to the article, though, one thing it touches on briefly is the unbundlings of channels and how this may be their biggest hurdle in getting it to work. Honestly, I just don't see how this will be done. Bundling seems like it's something that will always happen, even if it is, in the very least, an additional option where the bundled channels would be cheaper together than they would be if purchased individually. That may benefit the BTN due to its affiliation with Fox Sports and is probably the best scenario for them. If it isn't bundled, the additions of Rutgers and Maryland may be for naught within the next 7-10 years and the BTN may go the way of the dodo. This would obviously be a huge problem for all of the teams, even though less for OSU and UM as they bring in enough revenue to actually make money each year.
This is definitely something that needs to be looked at. What does everyone else think?