When in doubt, follow the money.

CBSSports.com dribbles out an interesting bit of information today.

The Southeastern Conference and CBS have reworked their long-term contract in light of the SEC’s new 24-hour channel and the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri, according to sources.

The terms of the deal are expected to remain intact ($55 million per year until 2023-24), with CBS lifting the exclusive 3:30 p.m. broadcast window so the SEC can air football games on its ESPN-operated channel on Saturdays.  [Emphasis added.]

Since the conference won’t “comment on financials”, it’s pretty easy to guess where Fowler’s sources came from.  And as they’re on the other side of the negotiating table, I think we can take them at face value.

What this means is that Slive got some help to make his network deal with ESPN an easier sell, but he didn’t get any more money.  So at least with regard to the CBS deal, the twelve existing members at the time that arrangement was struck are now taking home less money than they were because the pie is now split into more pieces.  I doubt that’s what the schools expected when they agreed to expand.  I sure would love to hear how Slive is spinning that to the presidents.

Will CBS pay a price for not playing ball here?  Maybe, but that’s a long way down the road.  In the meantime, the network has a ten-year contract locked in with a conference that’s going to be promoting the hell out of its product.  And who knows what the landscape is going to look like when the contract comes up for rebidding anyway?

In the meantime, if the SEC wants more TV money, I’d guess both CBS and ESPN have already told Slive what everybody knows:  a ninth conference game sure would boost inventory.

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13 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

13 responses to “When in doubt, follow the money.

  1. Dawg in Austin

    Look at it this way: at least maybe the reference to an exchange of non-revenue assets means Barnhart and Slive’s long-assumed working relationship can be officially consummated.

  2. Skeptic Dawg

    ESPN 30 for 30: “Mike Slive: The Man Who Destroyed The SEC”. This film is still in the works and will be narrated by Tony Barnhart.

  3. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Well, to be fair, adding Mizzou and aTm boosted inventory by 16 games.

    • cube

      Actually, it only increased by 8. In 2011, there were 48 SEC games. In 2012, there were 56.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Wait….(as I pull off my shoes and begin counting my fingers and toes)…both Mizzou and aTm played 8 game conference schedules in 2012…Those games didn’t exist in 2011….That’s 16 more games (8×2=16)…Where did I go wrong? Cube, HELP ME with my math!!! :)

        • Math in Public

          The reason A&M and Missou only add 8 total games to the SEC inventory is because every game requries 2 teams. Let’s say the new schedule pits A&M against Missou 8 times. Both teams play 8 “conference games,” but how many total games are there, 8 or 16?

  4. Except CBS loses exclusivity, that’s how Slive spins it. Sure, we didn’t get an increase from CBS, but we’re not offering the same caliber product either. Before, they’d have the only SEC game. Now, they just have the best, but where before they could expect a large amount of SEC and college football fans to watch their game, now they can expect a touch fewer losing fans of whatever SEC schools will be airing on another station at the same time slot.

    And when you add in the extra cash flowing from the new deal and channel, that leads to an overall larger pie for schools to be slicing. It’s not like the schools care about who’s putting ingredients (money) into the pie, so long as their slice gets bigger.

    • CBS still gets the first pick. And it’s not a cable network, unlike ESPN, so in markets that don’t carry the SEC Network, there’s still no competition at the time slot.

      My guess is that Slive tries to sell it by arguing that the schools will more more than enough money from the new network to make up for the shortfall. Heck, that may even turn out to be the case. But I’ll bet you that’s not what they were sold when they voted on expansion.

  5. Joe Schmoe

    It is really amazing to me how poorly planned this expansion move was. Any sensible executive in the business world wouldn’t have completely operated on assumption like Slive has done. Staggering to me that no plan was in place for managing the schedules with 14 teams and some sounding out of the TV partners on their enthusiam for the expanded league. Seems like a lot trouble and headaches for a very unclear amount of gain. After all, the sec network could have been started with a 12 team league so you can’t assign that revenue to the expansion.

    • Remember ACC Presidents saying ESPN was behind their moves? Could it be that Slive checked with ESPN, who said “Yes, adding A&M and Missouri will lead to us increasing the payments in our contracts.” So Slive relayed that info the the school Presidents, who voted to expand. And once expansion had occured, ESPN already had a contract in place and no incentive to pay additional money. So they get better inventory, and can laugh at the SEC for taking their word on something there was no leverage to actually force them to do.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I thought there was an “out” clause in the contract that allowed either party to renegotiate in case of a material change.

  6. JB

    I’m confused by all this, how does the TV pecking order now work? I assume it’s 1. CBS 3:30 2. ESPN 7:45 3. ESPN2 7:45ish, 4. SEC Network time?