You know that Likeness Rights bill in California? It's already getting watered down
Good morning! Gonna fire off back to back newsletters here not just because there’s a lot of news to discuss, but also because NBA2K20 drops Thursday night, and do I want to be copyediting or looking up legal filings late at night when I could be getting dunked on by kids over my Playstation? Nah.
I have a conflicted relationship with the NBA2K series. Every year, it leaves me absolutely spittin’ and cussin’ angry…at nickel and diming micro-transactions, at the fact that I routinely get destroyed by 13 year olds whenever I play online, at my inability to shoot free throws, etc.
But at the start of every fall, I’m convinced that this year is going to be different. This year is going to be great the entire time, and then I shell out $50 bucks. What can I say? I grew up a fan of Ohio professional sports teams. I’m a sucker for punishment.
Anyway, you’re probably not hear to read me complain about how I’m not very good at a video game that I buy every single year. Let’s talk about some college football things.
Landmark California Player Likeness Bill gets watered down a bit
We have a few different legislative challenges to the current amateurism model working their way through various statehouses, but only one is really close to becoming law, and that’s in California. According to USA TODAY, voting could begin on this bill as early as Thursday, now that it’s passed multiple committees. It is expected to be signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.
The TL;DR is that this proposed legislation would allow college athletes competing for California institutions to profit off their name and likeness, something that is currently prohibited by NCAA rules. The NCAA strongly opposes the bill.
This bill, even if passed and signed by the governor, won’t go into effect until 2023, plenty of time for the NCAA and their various subcommittees to study the issue and come up with a coherent national policy. But we may already be seeing loopholes start to form:
California bill that would allow athletes to make money off their own name, image and likeness has been amended in an effort to address potential conflicts between prospective athlete deals and school deals, such as shoe/apparel contracts
— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz)
Sep 4, 2019
Athlete would not be allowed to have deal that conflicts with a school contract, but a school contract would not be allowed to restrict athlete from using NIL for a commercial purpose when not engaged in official team activities
— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz)
Sep 4, 2019
So on one hand, you’d think this would only apply to a few potential kinds of companies. Shoe/apparel contracts are some of the most lucrative deals an athletic department could sign, and sure, a kid going to be major Under Armour program like UCLA, then cutting his own deal with Nike, undercuts the entire enterprise for the school. Coke/Pepsi contracts, and maybe a few other concession type arrangements, might also fall under that umbrella.
But if that becomes established precedent, could a school try to reach agreements with a ton of local businesses that might effectively create another major market barrier for a kid? There are probably only so many national brands that would enter an endorsement space, and a university, either on purpose or on accident, could very well create conflict of interests with a slew of other local businesses. That car dealership that spent $500 bucks to buy an ad in a program for the volleyball team? Would they fall under this restriction too?
I guess at the end of the day, outside of companies like Nike or Adidas, or folks whose jobs depend on those contracts, I don’t see who this really mollifies. Hardcore defenders of amateurism are going to oppose any likeness rights expansions, even if they’re heavily regulated. And the more regulated and limited the lightness rights market becomes, the more likely you have bagmen creating a black market (like what we have now), and the more legal risk you create for challenges.
I’m not too worried about what exactly this bill looks like, because I don’t think it will ever become law as written. But this is a great way to force the NCAA and various school-level stakeholders to take this seriously. Because it is serious.
ACC Network adds Cox, continues to reach more homes than the Pac-12 Network
The ACC Network, right this very second, already is in more homes than the Pac-12 Network. And in a somewhat surprising move, they’re about to be in even more.
On Wednesday, ESPN announced they’ve reached an agreement with Cox.
Within the ACC footprint, Cox is a major cable provider in Virginia, Rhode Island (idk, maybe there are some BC fans there), and small pockets of Georgia and Florida. It’s also a major provider in Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Vegas and San Diego.
Right now, the biggest holdout remains Comcast, and since their carriage deal with Disney doesn’t expire until late 2021, it’s unlikely that gets resolved in the immediate future. But then again, Cox still had a year left on their Disney deal, and lo and behold, they figured something out. So maybe that’s a positive sign!
If you live in Comcast territory (like I do) and want the ACC Network, you’re in luck. You could always ditch your cable company entirely and switch to a service like Youtube TV or Playstation Vue (which is what I use), and get just about any TV channel you’d need for college football. The only real drawback I’ve found is that you’re usually going to be about two plays behind Twitter during a live broadcast.
If you’re not a fan of an ACC school, I’m not sure this is an essential channel for you to have, but there’s often a game a week that a casual fan might be interested in. South Florida plays Georgia Tech in week 2 on ACCN, (you want another meltdown candidate, beyond BYU or Tennessee? Check out South Florida), and Miami and North Carolina should be fun too. If you want to keep tabs on Clemson, or teams that might battle for the right to be a speed bump against Clemson in the ACC title game, it’s not a bad thing to have. And obviously, if you care about college basketball, it’ll be critical.
I don’t really know exactly what the short term revenue expectations are for the ACC Network, but as far as distribution and quality of programming, I think things have gone about as well as they could have reasonably hoped for. The best time to launch a conventional TV network was probably five years ago, but the ACC might not have had the population or football success to make that happen.
Whether this becomes a cash cow or not, it’ll probably at least help shore up the revenue gap a little bit between themselves and the Big 12, and help give more exposure to olympic sports.
I’d guess ESPN may be a bit more aggressive in their programming come ACC basketball season, like they did with ESPN2, but we’ll see.
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I’ve got some fun topics for next week, once we’re on a more regular schedule, and I haven’t forgotten about podcasting! Stick with me. It’ll be fun.