There is a tension that the SEC is eventually going to have to face and resolve – and by “eventually”, I really mean sooner than later. Here’s what Forbes has to say in its evaluation of what college football programs are worth:
Home games are the lifeblood of college football’s most financially successful teams. Almost every school-specific revenue stream – ticket sales, contributions, sponsorships, merchandise – is at least partly influenced by a team’s number of home games. And the financial impact of home football games reaches beyond the schools, as each team’s local community enjoys a sizable economic boost from the thousands of fans who flock to the area on gamedays.
Our methodology, explained in detail below, considers the economic impact of visiting fans, and it’s often quite big. A single home game could inject anywhere from $5 million to $10 million of direct spending into a school’s local economy, depending on the team…
Those cupcakes are mighty tasty, Slim. Having that extra home game each and every season is worth some serious jack. But so is this.
The SEC is renegotiating its long-term rights deals with ESPN and CBS after Texas A&M and Missouri joined the league.
“We’ve been looking at all of our options since we added A&M and Missouri,” Slive said. “As these conversations have evolved, we’ve now begun to focus clearly on what we think is the right way to go.”
What form an SEC network would take is unclear, although it would likely be a partnership of some sort with ESPN. Industry analyst Chris Bevilacqua, who was integrally involved with putting together the Pac-12’s deal with ESPN and Fox, suggested the SEC would likely fall somewhere on the spectrum between the Longhorn Network and the Big Ten Network. The Longhorn Network is fully owned by ESPN, which agreed to pay Texas $300 million over 20 years. The Big Ten owns 49 percent of its network; Fox owns 51 percent.
The Pac-12 has a 100-percent stake in its regional networks, which began broadcasting in August. By taking on all of the risk, the Pac-12 also reaps all of the reward.
“Is the SEC gonna take on risk and therefore build more upside? My strong sense is they will be more focused on having ESPN take on more of the risk,” Bevilacqua said. “They’re gonna get compensated handsomely, no matter what.”
The WWL isn’t going to pay as handsomely for the rights to the Georgia-Georgia Southern game as it would for a game against Georgia’s ninth conference opponent. But that means one less home game every other year for each SEC school. Who wins out? Math is hard. But I wouldn’t bet against the network.