Amazon Executive Predicts Tech Giants Will Cause Next Round Of Conference Realignment

first_imgAn interior view of the stadium before the start of Texas A&M Aggies Maroon & White spring football game at Kyle Field.COLLEGE STATION, TX – APRIL 13: An interior view of the stadium before the start of Texas A&M Aggies Maroon & White spring football game at Kyle Field on April 13, 2013 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)When we think of college football conference realignment, it is easiest to think of things through the terms of how the sport currently works. To the point, big money deals with ESPN, FOX, CBS, and other networks have driven realignment. We’ve already seen a big blow to geography’s role in the sport.Live sports are among the only things that are currently propping up the cable model. While there are more scripted television shows than ever, few outside of your stray HBO Sunday night hit like Game of Thrones are live appointment viewing. A big sporting event, like tonight’s NBA Finals Game 1, will still draw a substantial live viewership.Even with dipping NFL ratings, college football has thrived, and Division I college football has a massive inventory of games every year, thanks to 130 teams, and at least a few dozen that can draw neutral fans in big numbers. It only makes sense that once conference media rights deals expire between 2023 and 2026, that tech companies like Amazon and Netflix could look to get into the game.Those two alone are already producing billions of dollars worth of content. The ability to show college football and drive more subscriptions would be huge.At the Big 12 meetings this week, West Virginia president E. Gordon Gee already floated the idea of the Big 12 looking to those streaming giants as potential partners after the Grant of Rights for the league is up in 2025. However, things could go way farther than that. 247Sports‘ Brian Bishop spoke to an unnamed Amazon executive and college football fan who thinks his company and its competitors could effectively blow up the current conference model.“Conference realignment will come,” he said, “but probably not in the way you’re thinking.”He explained that Amazon, Netflix and perhaps even Apple, Google and Facebook, (aka ‘FAANG’), will be more instrumental than current TV networks in reshaping what we know now as conference affiliations.Naturally, I doubted this statement, until he explained why.“We already have more cash than ABC/ESPN, NBC or CBS” he said. “And, In another five or six years, it won’t even be close. And too, ”the tech companies are far more advanced than the networks when it comes to knowing how to use the future broadcast technologies, (streaming) and that gap is growing too.”With billions in the coffers to spend on content, a company like Amazon could double what even the Big Ten is receiving with its current $2.6 billion media deal. However, the executive thinks the target will be schools, and not conferences.Again, back to my friend at Amazon. “We’re still seven or eight years away,” he said, “but if we had to restructure the landscape today, we would not start by negotiating with a conference. We don’t care about the SEC, Big 12 of Big 10 as a whole. In our opinion, those entities are not our focus.“Instead, we would want to identify 30 or 40 teams that command the biggest audience. That may be by reputation or location, but generally we all know that there are members in every one of these conferences that frankly don’t move the needle.This projects a future where rather than a set of conferences, you have teams under the umbrellas of different streaming companies that will determine where their games will be available. The Big Ten and SEC are certainly brands, but Alabama, Ohio State, and the other big programs have far more utility by themselves to a place like Amazon.This remains pretty hypothetical, and obviously this type of huge change could be a few cycles away. Still, the entire piece is fascinating, and absolutely feels like the direction in which things could move sooner than we think.[247Sports]last_img read more