The Big East introduced Mike Aresco as its new commissioner Wednesday, a hire that puts the league under the reins of one of the most creative and bright media minds in the business. As an executive with CBS, he worked out deals with the SEC and the NCAA tournament, including pioneering the streaming service March Madness on Demand. Before that, he was part of the college programming team at ESPN. He is considered a TV and marketing genius.
On a conference call Wednesday, Aresco said he is embracing the challenges faced by what he calls a "national conference" after so much upheaval.
How important is your new TV deal to the health of the conference?
Aresco » "We start exclusive talks with ESPN on September 1, and we have 60 days to get a deal done with them. If we can't get a deal done, then we can open things up to CBS, NBC, Turner and Fox, so we enter these talks knowing that a national football and basketball package that spans all four time zones is worthy of strong financial consideration."
Are you looking to start your own network as well?
Aresco » "Nothing is off the table here. We are open to explore all of our broadcast and digital options and to expand the Big East brand from coast to coast. We have more major media markets than any other conference. We have a conference that also has the unique distinction of having basketball-only schools that add great value and tradition to our league. As to the size of our conference, we feel that it suits us well as we market to a national audience."
What about the importance of keeping traditional rivalries going?
"Absolutely, we have plenty of traditional rivalries that we must protect, while at the same time there will be some new ones that come about with our new members on board. I also hope that from a football standpoint that our teams play top-name schools from other conferences as we can create some good intersectional rivalries as well. Finally I will be working with the present top-tier bowls to establish a long-term relationship for the Big East as we move forward in the new championship format."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!, on washingtonexaminer.com.