“The market for live sports rights have gone through the roof.”

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.



Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

9 responses to ““The market for live sports rights have gone through the roof.”

  1. Some seriously mixed messages here from the SEC. On the one hand it’s “Come to the games! We need fans in the stands! It’s important to the school and the community, and a bunch of empty seats will make us look bad!” On the other hand, they’re giving us crappier home schedules with each passing year, even as their ever-expanding cable deals make it that much easier for me to stay at home and half-pay attention to the game on TV while I do my ironing or something.

    But if the SEC is indeed “more focused on having ESPN take on more of the risk,” it sounds like they’re committed to loading gimme games onto the schedule and leaving it up to ESPN to roll the dice on paying for broadcast rights.


  2. Sanford222View

    One of the few times I am pulling for the WWL/network!


  3. Brian Fantana

    Rooting for 9 SEC games.

    While he is insufferable most of the time, Clay Travis had a decent solution to the 5/4 quandry: everyone plays 1 neutral site SEC game. 4 teams currently do this (GA, FL, ARK, TAMU). Not ideal, but it could work with enough planning ahead of time, and would provide a balance of 4 home & away SEC games. The annual gate receipts from Jax just about equal 1 home game every 2 years.


  4. Macallanlover

    I don’t disagree that the WWL is getting itself in a box with these escalating demands on cable and satellite companies, nor that the SEC may be overestimating it’s value, but the risk is longer term to me. I have watched several companies devalue the long-term equity in products by milking the brands for immediate money. No question we all have wonderful memories of fall afternoons in Athens enjoying the gameday experience but the more broiling days spent watching us thrash some directional school the further we get from what we loved. Once you begin to mix in some average, or worse, experiences you begin to lose that trust. Loyalty, once lost, is hard/impossible to regain. For a couple, gamedays are anywhere from several hundred, to over a thousand dollars for each game attended when you include all costs. Tread very carefully with the continued watering down of the Sanford “brand”.


    • W Cobb Dawg

      I agree. We gave up our season itckets over a decade ago. Way back when, we could leisurely tailgate on East Cloverhurst all morning, interact with the students (as they staggered back to the dorm from the night before), fire up the BBQ, etc. Most games were in the early afternoon and we’d be back home at sunset. Then adams shut down most of the campus for tailgaters, game times became wheel-of-fortune, and now a lot of opponents arn’t worth the price of admission. Glad I had the opportunity to go while it lasted, but now its gotten to be too much of a hassle – at least for us. The attendance cash cow is already being threatened, it just hasn’t reached a point where others turn to watching on TV like we did.


  5. AthensHomerDawg

    I was surprised to see Georgia at 5 ahead of Alabama. But uT at 9 was a bit of a shocker. Looking at their record, empty seats, 4 million in the red I didn’t see that coming. Maybe the two hotdogs and a coke deal with a ticket paid off bigger than we know. Lot of SEC teams in the top ten value wise. Arkansas at 10 …. who knew?


  6. sniffer

    Expansion is inevitable and could happen at any time, it seems. 14 teams is not “workable” and eventually teams will be added. The suits will have contingencies for expansion in any contract, but how do you value the incoming programs? Would all new incoming schools be valued the same?

    I hope Slive goes the “super conference” route (Oklahoma, FSU, etc.) rather than the “we need two teams” (UVa, Va Tech) route.


  7. Otto

    I am strongly against the 9th game.

    However, it would be nice to see the contract add in restrictions against scheduling FCS teams and some sort of bunus for scheduling BCS conf teams. The SEC is tough enough as it is without adding another conf game.