CAA Shacks Up with NBC Sports Network

This is just a quick little post to make sure I continue The Streak into tomorrow. Normally I doubt this would deserve a post entirely its own.

However, I wanted to note that this is very good news for the CAA, which is one of the better mid-major conferences in basketball, if not quite on the level of the Big Three of the Missouri Valley, Mountain West, and Atlantic 10, boasting among others March Madness darling George Mason. Hooking up with NBC Sports Network greatly increases its exposure, as opposed to being a gap-filler on ESPN2 until the conference championship, and occords it a certain measure of respect beyond that of merely being a “miscellaneous” conference. It also shows that college basketball on NBC Sports Network isn’t merely shackled to the network’s desire to show Mountain West football.

It also exemplifies something I have long held about the sports TV wars: by creating a mass of sports networks, all hungry for programming, it frees up programming space on ESPN and others for more niche sports and leagues to get more exposure. Before, it was ESPN or bust; now, a league like the CAA can find a home on NBC Sports Network and not get lost in the shuffle. Not only that, but the CAA’s departure frees up space on ESPN to get more exposure there as well.

However, NBC may be running out of time to get a real, bona fide major conference. For reasons I’ll get to later this year, conference realignment and proposed changes to the BCS may make the Big East, already a relative football weakling, not much better if at all than the Mountain West at football, though it would still add greatly to NBC’s basketball bona fides. Coupled with ESPN and Fox locking up most of the other major conferences to long-term deals and teaming up to shut NBC out of the Pac-12, that could mean NBC’s only chance at nabbing a real major conference for a long time could be when the Big Ten’s rights come up in four years. NBC could claim some success if it won both the Big East and Big Ten – given how strong Fox has been, and the objections Notre Dame would raise to adding any more football to the broadcast network, a third of the Big Six conferences is doing about as well as could be expected – but anything less may well be unacceptable.

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