NEW YORK -- ESPN and the BCS Group played defense Tuesday about their new four-year deal that would put the highest-profile sports championship squarely on cable TV for the first time.
The $500 million was about $100 million richer for the BCS and its schools than rights-holder Fox Sports was willing to pay to continue when the current deal ends in 2010. But it also means that three bowls -- Fiesta, Orange and Sugar -- and the BCS Championship Game would move from free, over-the-air TV to cable beginning in January 2011.
In arguing for the BCS to accept its $400 million offer -- $80 million more than it currently pays despite so-so ratings -- Fox Sports and others have said that millions of viewers would be left out when the BCS made the jump from broadcast to cable. But the BCS felt otherwise. It not only accepted ESPN's offer Tuesday, a day after Fox declined to match the offer, but it also did so unanimously.