Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris tells Bloomberg News that she would like multiyear national TV deals to broadcast the conference's football and basketball games -- plus, perhaps, lacrosse and soccer.
You may recall that the Ivy League had a deal with Versus for 2008, only to see the deal collapse for 2009 when sponsorship dollars dried up in this economic climate.
Harris would not tell Bloomberg which networks might be interested, or what type of revenues the league might expect. (In the '08 deal with Versus, the league and the network did not exchange money; the Ivies just wanted the exposure). She also did not think a deal could be in place for the 2010 football season.
For his part, Athletic Director Steve Bilsky seemed lukewarm on the idea, referencing Penn's strong ties with Comcast. The University's deal with the regional sports network runs through 2010-11, with mutual options to renew thereafter.
“We have a good local TV package,” Bilsky told Bloomberg. “Selfishly, we wouldn’t give that up unless we felt there was a very legitimate alternative, not something we have for a year and it dissipates.
“The challenge is to come up with something that is sustainable enough and positive enough that we’d be willing to give away our good games."
So it seems as if Harris has a tough road ahead. Considering that the Ivy League couldn't get a football deal for '09 --and considering the dismal ratings that the football games on Versus received -- finding someone interested in soccer and lacrosse seems like a long shot, even bundled with the top two sports. Then, she'll also have to convince the member institutions that its worth their while. And as we know, not all Ivy schools enter this discussion on the same footing.
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