Perhaps the most important testimony from day four of the O'Bannon trial was the most obvious. Sports television expert Ed Desser took the stand to testify that when television companies buy the rights to games, they do it to actually show the games.
This seems incredibly obvious, but a key to the NCAA's case is proving its contracts state broadcasters buy the rights to show stadiums, not the players. This isn't a great point, especially since Judge Claudia Wilken had previously "chuckled" at the notion, but it's a way the organization could win on a technicality.
There was only one problem: that wasn't true, as court documents showed.
Contract has specific language guaranteeing Fox's ability to use the names and images of the participants.— Brad Wolverton (@bradwolverton) June 12, 2014
The BCS deal is previous agreement with FOX. Includes the same NIL provisions.— Ben Strauss (@bstrauss1) June 12, 2014
NCAA guaranteed CBS that it had secured all necessary rights, and stood behind that with indemnification clause #NCAAtrial— Tom Farrey (@TomFarrey) June 12, 2014
So the NCAA's strategy was to say there is "no evidence" that athletes' likenesses are transferred to broadcasters, citing television contracts. But then those same contracts said the opposite of what was claimed. Heck, the Big 12 contract didn't even say anything about facilities. It's no wonder the NCAA worked so hard to keep the contracts sealed.
The NCAA argued that those rights are for promotional use, not the actual broadcasts, and that players sign over their promotional rights on a waiver. They also contend the broadcast rights issue is irrelevant, because athletes don't have those rights.
NCAA has been contending that it's not necessary for NCAA and others to acquire rights from athletes b/c it contends athletes don't have any— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz) June 12, 2014
Still, given what's written in the contracts, it's going to be very, very hard for the NCAA to prove athletes generate none of its revenue and aren't entitled to any of the industry's billions of dollars in TV money.