Big West on the big screen
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 14:10
The Big West Conference and FOX Sports Networks have agreed to an exclusive six-year media rights deal that will consequently help Long Beach State strengthen its foothold in Southern California.
The deal is effective immediately, as Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West will televise a minimum of 20 Big West events in 2012-13. FOX Sports Networks (FSN) will then expand its coverage to at least 32 games per year when San Diego State and Boise State join the conference in the fall of 2013.
“The new television agreement will give much-needed exposure to Long Beach State athletics and, in particular, men’s basketball,” LBSU athletic director Vic Cegles said via email.
FSN’s television coverage will include select regular season men’s basketball games, four Big West men’s basketball quarterfinals games and the women’s basketball conference championship game. It will also feature conference championships for soccer and track and field.
“Television is the best way to do it when you’re trying to get national recognition,” men’s basketball head coach Dan Monson said. “Fox Sports West is a local channel, but people across the nation with the DirecTV [sports package] will be able to watch us. They’ll see a brand that’s Long Beach State.”
The Big West and FSN will also launch a free Internet video streaming platform in November. Up to 800 games of various sports will be aired online, including men’s and women’s basketball games not selected for television.
The deal is a big step for a conference that was previously paying $240,000 a year out of its own pocket to televise eight games a year. Its mid-major status, however, has prevented it from getting the same big-time media rights payday as the largest conferences.
The Big West will be on the receiving end of rights and sponsorships fees that start at $1 million per year and increase by an unspecified amount each following year. The money will be distributed to the conferences’ 10-member institutions at $150,000 annually.
The boost in television exposure will also allow The Beach to market itself as an attractive destination when recruiting prospective student-athletes. The idea of playing to a television audience on a consistent basis would certainly appeal to highly-rated prospects in various sports.
Add to that the gentrified facilities at the Walter Pyramid, and LBSU is in a far more competitive position than before in the recruiting battle with the elite athletics programs of UCLA and Southern California.
Cegles, however, warned that the FSN deal doesn’t automatically put LBSU athletics on level terms with its wealthier Los Angeles counterparts.
“UCLA, USC and the Pac-12 will always have stronger print and electronic media exposure, especially with the new Pac-12 Network,” Cegles said. “However, there is so much basketball talent in SoCal that with increased exposure, we will have opportunity to recruit higher-caliber student-athletes and [be able to] compete with almost anyone.”
Monson agreed that LBSU won’t be able to overtake UCLA or USC in the near future, but said that the television exposure will allow his team to compete with them in the long run.
“UCLA and USC are still above us,” he said. “If we’re to beat them in recruiting, we have to beat them on the court consistently. But this is where television exposure plays a big part, because when kids see us beat them, it’ll help our recruiting.”
A final benefit of the deal is the opportunity for each Big West institution to advertise on the air, as each school will be given a commercial spot during the telecasts.
“Hopefully, as a bonus, it will rally alumni and impact pride and gifting to the university,” Cegles said.