USA Today hired a college sports rights-valuation firm to evaluate what the conference broadcast rights numbers are shaping up to look like, and as the header indicates, the firm argues that the Pac-12 comes out on top in the money game. Well, sort of.
The estimate, premised on the SEC continuing without a conference-owned network and again having 15-year deals, would give the SEC more guaranteed TV revenue than any college athletics conference: nearly $25 million a school per year over the full contract term ($5.2 billion total).
However, the Pac-12’s full ownership of national and regional networks that have lined up substantial distribution before their scheduled launch in August, indicates that the conference is on track to generate at least $30 million a school per year over the 12-year term of agreements with ESPN and Fox that begin later this year ($4.3 billion total). Only the money from ESPN and Fox — about $21 million a school per year — is guaranteed, though. And because of the networks’ start-up costs the actual per-school revenue the first few years is likely to be well below the projected annual average.
So, the SEC deals generate about 20% more guaranteed revenue per school than the Pac-12 is expected to get – and that’s spread over two more schools, remember – and the Pac-12’s projection is on the high side because it doesn’t factor in that conference’s ownership costs. But the Pac-12 is somehow seen as the big winner. Interesting.
The SEC is getting a $2.2 billion bump with no infrastructure expense much beyond unfurling a couple of new flags in the home office. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
Note also that’s there’s still a sizeable spread between the Big 12’s and SEC’s numbers. It’ll be worth watching to see if a couple of ACC additions to the Big 12 are enough to cut that down. And whether that’s any motivation for the SEC to do more fishing itself.