Michael Smith on the Paul Finebaum Show

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You're listening to the Paul Finebaum Show podcast and we're delighted to welcome all of you back. Oh one of the Tru truly great reporters On the on the college sports business seen in Michael Smith joining us now. In one of the most recent issues of the Sports Business Journal talking about The first six years of the College Football Ballpoint Michael Great to have you on we. We're always looking for ways to talk. I'd rather do it other than on the only on the air. But we're delighted to have you here and I wanna I just first of all Just have you do reflect on some of the reporting that you did in this piece as well as your own observations of the first uh for six years of the College Football playoff. Hey Paul thanks for having me So good catch up with you and You know the point of the story was to look at the College Football Playoff Championship game. We're six years into it now. The the deal it is being goes twelve years so we felt like at at this midpoint on the TV contract. It was a good time to kind of take stock of what has worked what has not worked and so we went out and hold a lot of marketing then media experts and got their opinions on on that question and so as you can imagine. Most of the feedback was positive It's better than the system we had before But it still leaves a lot of questions in terms of how do you grow the TV audience. Had He made it. It could schedule more consistent so we don't have two weeks between the semi final and final. How do we keep games off of New Year's Eve questions like that that they continue to come up and no real solution for right now you also took look with ESPN executives About the time of the game. And that's a that's that's a complaint you get all the time this year. The game ended. I think twelve fourteen no the game a couple of years ago when even later an and Michael you and I live on the East eastern time zone we forget there are people in California who are three hours behind us but That's not going to change. There's a no it's not gonNA change you know. Five of the six championship games have gone past midnight. And like you said some going well past midnight and that's where it really comes down to. How competitive the game is and with LSU pulling away at that point the viewer show probably after midnight was not as great raise. It would have been saved for the Alabama Georgia overtime game. No it's a really good point Let me ask you since you are You know all these people pool and I know you just go through spending some time and can't wait to hear more about it with Jim Delany in Nashville. Who Retired how? How does college football allow the Big Ten and the PAC twelve and more importantly the Rosebowl? Aw dictate everything else that goes around it. The that's kind of age old question June and You know there. There's such an allegiance. There's such loyalty to to the ball. Games like especially the Rosebowl like you pointed out often and that really is one of the major factors. You know the rosebowl being locked in at that time. New Year's Day on factors I y you cannot consistently put the semifinals on New Year's Day. And then come back with the championship game a week later And there there's just It's almost hard to explain. But there there's such a sense of The the Rose Bowl has been so. Oh good to college football that you do have loyalists like Jim Laney and others the you know who the SEC. In the sugar bowl for example that They they don't want to relinquish that. And so the only way to make sure the Rose Bowl and sugar bowl maintain that status as they own new year's Day. I wonder again. I have great admiration for Delaney and the fact that I would give him the credit here. I think you can correct a For being able to do this and then what did the SEC do. As you've reported Mike's life came in and said okay. If they're going to do that we wanna own the sugarbowl Slob of the problem with the sugar. The ball slot. Mike is at the game. Doesn't start till nine o'clock right. You know that's you know that's an aspect active Of all the experts that we talked to media marketing is worth. We talked to the one criticism or the one Miss when you talk about a hitter misses that kept coming up was the inconsistency the scheduling and maybe not being able to capitalize as much on in the semifinal games as they would like you know we saw the TV audience really spiked with that first championship game between Satan Oregon Oregon and since then it's Kinda settled in lower number right around twenty five million viewers. That's a fantastic crowd in this definitely It definitely gives. ESPN the ability to own that that evening. But when you think about the Super Bowl being eighty five to ninety million million viewers compared to twenty five million for the College Football Championship. You wonder how. How is the CFPB championship game? Going to grow its viewership and And the inconsistency of this is one of the factors that a lot of people pointed to that that could limited going forward and and I wonder listen. I don't I don't want to minimize twenty five million people That's a big number and when you look at the most watched events of the year after the super bowl off the collar after the Super Bowl and the in the NFL playoffs College football biggest night is huge. But I'm just watching it this week and I realized the Kobe tragedy has has cast a pall but From here on as you know Michael you're in the sports business world the Super Bowl. Aw is as big of an event as there is in the world and college. Football just seem like it's sandwiched in between the NFL. Playoff off games on Saturday and Sunday right. So this schedule if you think about it There were three. NFL Sundays in between the semi finals. The final amazing and so that goes back to the consistency question the scheduling and being able to maximize the opportunity to college. Football has to to own certain days as and when you think about cargo owning January first and neither the finals nor the semifinals are on January. First it seems a little counterintuitive and January. I was a huge day. I mean the the audience for the Michigan Alabama Citrus Bowl was was Gargantuan and so it's not like ESPN is going broke on this. I mean they're still doing pretty well. And maybe maybe the maybe. Maybe they're better off owning the semi final day and New Year's Day. I don't know I'm just a lowly employees at ESPN. But my question to you is what happens next We're sick. We're we're six years in then every year. There's this rampant speculation that something's about to change and it never seems to. You know all these people you spend a lot of time with the college football powerbrokers our brokers Between now and when are they going to alter if assuming they are the college. Football playoff are more people are more schools getting again we. That's a great question and an access is is definitely one of the one of the questions that I post a lot of the people that work in that space and There's there seems to be a consensus that that the commissioners at least are willing to talk about. That's a good thing. That's a step forward but I don't know of anyone who thinks it's going to happen before this. This twelve year contract runs. It runs its course and so it could happen in the next contract. I I definitely think it's something that will be discussing the talk about you know not keep coming back to this loyalty to bowl games. One of the one of the arguments that I hear against the eighteen playoff is about those four teams that lose in the in the quarterfinals awesome. They don't get the bowl experience. Well if you're one of those four teams they lost in the quarterfinals. Would you rather have a shot at being in the playoff. Who would you rather be able to spend a couple of days at a theme park having your bowl experience and so those it almost sounds kind of silly but those are the kind of conversations that are taking place when they're contemplating expansion and let me ask you Michael I mean this year we had the the the the peculiarity of the lending tree bowl in mobile with all due. Respect to lending three which happens to be headquartered around the corner from where we were sitting having a bowl game on Monday night and I realized I was a Corcoran the schedule but that late in the process I mean is that experience really that meaningful. I I've been to the College Football Bowl Association. I've heard what those guys say and they work very hard but still It just seems discombobulated up to me and many others. Yeah you know I. I guess that's just to me the the the the mid to third week in December bowl and and also the ones that you're talking about leading up to the championship game and early January. I just you know. Obviously they're important. TV CONTENT FOR ESPN but also they provide an opportunity to go on. PREGAME halftime the post game to talk about the next game. And so it's all part of the build up in an intersection that way. You know one other thing. I was thinking about fall. We're talking about kind of the future of the CFP in this current contract in years. Eleven and twelve. They're still to championship game sites to be determined. And that's something that will happen in the next couple of years but That's one of the things I'm GONNA be. Watching is what two cities are able to land. There's there's last two championship games in this twelve year cycle. What I'm curious before you go? What what are the next couple of years? Look like for the CIP in terms of In terms of site well Indianapolis is in there somewhere. It it is Is going to go obviously Miami and La to the new stadium in Houston. Okay then those last two years are to be determined. But you could definitely envision like Las Vegas a while you could invade eh envision somebody like Orlando that has bid for championship games in the past. you could go to north to a minneapolis or two met met life in New Jersey New York Those are those are some of the sites that I think this year Vegas is going to get a pretty good workout with what's to the NFL draft and everything else. It's hard to imagine not being in the Niger. That's a lot of a lot of places are going Michael Michael Fascinating If it's a really incredible read and of course anytime Vince Thompson is quoted. My eiser all over it Thank you for coming coming on. Just just one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry and you must follow Michael to keep up with things in the sports business platform. Warm Michael Comeback. Soon thank you very much greg. My friend all. It's great to have you Michael Smith just an outstanding reporter and I can't wait there He spent last Last week with Jim Delany Just after his retirement and that is going to be fascinating to to read

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