May 8, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT
On Monday afternoon the Ivy League and NBC Sports Network announced a two-year extension to their current TV rights agreement, which will now run until 2014.
While the fact that “The Game” is included in the agreement will resonate with many, there’s also the addition of anywhere between six and ten men’s basketball games that should be noted (with the ability to add more, which can be sublicensed to other national networks).
A familiar issue for those who follow the Ivy League during league play was the lack of games accessible on television. Some would end up on the ESPN family of networks, but far too often quality Friday night contests would go without a carrier.
A glaring example last season: eventual league champion Harvard’s visit to Pennsylvania on February 10, with the Crimson entering at 7-0 in league play and Penn 4-1 (Harvard won 56-50).
Harvard played in just one nationally televised game (removing the web channel ESPN3) after their December 8 loss at Connecticut, and that was their 70-62 loss at Princeton on February 11.
The new TV deal should help out the Ivy League a great deal, especially if more of those ten games are used for conference games instead of non-conference games.
Being able to showcase their teams nationally, especially when they have a club like last year’s Harvard team or the 2010 Cornell squad that reached the Sweet 16, could help when dealing with the selection committee as well.
Of course that’s got more to do with the Ivy champion’s record and quality of their wins than simply being on TV, but it can’t hurt to have more people familiar with your product thanks to national television.
The Ivy League’s NCAA tournament representative hasn’t received a single-digit seed since 1998, when Princeton went 27-2 (14-0 Ivy) and received a five-seed.
“I think this is a great television package for the Ivy League and will allow a national audience to become more acquainted with the high level of talent that exists among our schools,” Penn athletic director Steve Bilsky said in a statement. “Kudos to [Ivy League executive director] Robin Harris and her staff for getting this accomplished.”
With more networks looking for inventory to televise it would be wise for conferences to take advantage. The Ivy League has done so, and their schools should benefit as a result.
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