The latest case for SEC expansion

John Ourand broke the news yesterday that Fox is prepared to pay the Big Ten a boatload of money for some of the conference’s media rights.

Fox is close to signing a deal that gives it half of the Big Ten’s available media rights package, according to several sources. Deal terms still are flexible – both in terms of money and rights. However, the two sides have agreed on basic terms that will give Fox the rights to around 25 football games and 50 basketball games that it will carry on both the broadcast channel and FS1 starting in the fall of ’17. The deal runs six years and could cost Fox as much as $250M per year, depending on the amount of rights the Big Ten conference puts in its second package.

The Fox deal essentially is half of the package of games that had been with ESPN (as part of a 10-year, $1B deal that expires next spring) and CBS (as part of a 6-year, $72M basketball-only deal that also expires next spring).

The money is eye-popping, yes, but the key item there is the deal’s six-year term.  Why is that a big deal?  Dan Wolken explains.

We’ll see where the final numbers come out, but it seems almost certain that Big Ten schools will soon be banking more than $30 million per year — a number that doesn’t even include what the conference makes off the Big Ten Network and digital rights. When it’s all said and done, it could be a $40 million distribution.

And the best part? If it’s a six-year deal, as Ourand reported, the Big Ten’s media rights will come up for bid again (and maybe again prior to that) before ESPN’s 20-year agreement with the SEC expires in 2034.

Delany is obviously betting that the market for broadcast rights will be just as hot in six years as it is today.  If he’s right – and before you start down the “it’ll be an unbundled world by then, ESPN’s on the ropes, etc.” road, remember that we college football fans will need our fix in six years just as much as today, so all we’re really arguing about is the manner in which the drug will be delivered – imagine the way Greg Sankey is going to be pressed to react to the news of the latest deals the Big Ten strikes then as the SEC presidents are forced to make do (yes, I’m being sarcastic, but the presidents won’t be) with the 20-year deal Mike Slive left them saddled.

Then try to imagine the way Sankey negotiates his way out of the existing 20-year deal.  Actually, that doesn’t take much imagination at all.  Just think back to what Slive did when he renegotiated, which was to expand the conference by adding two new members, with all the attendant scheduling issues that brought with it.  Along with the extra money, of course.

Can you say 16-team conference?  I thought you could.  Honestly, were I an astute school president with ambitions for my football program, I’d start working my way into getting Sankey’s attention and consideration in the next few years.  Because this has the feel of inevitability to it.  This aggression will not stand, man.

20 Comments

Filed under Big Ten Football, SEC Football

20 responses to “The latest case for SEC expansion

  1. Please, no. Another round of expansion would essentially end the conference as we know it. I’m sure the ACC would be more than happy to pick up some of the eastern teams as the SEC becomes the CTZC – Central Time Zone Conference.

  2. That time of the football season when news is drying up.

  3. @gatriguy

    Dunno where they’d go. Clemson and VT would be cultural fits, but SCU isn’t going to let that happen and VA legislature is probably going to keep UVA and VT tied at the hip. Personally, I think the Oklahoma schools make no sense whatsoever.

    Ultimately, any more expansion is going to be really tough without a dance partner and would require jettisoning some schools out in order to bring more in.

  4. Russ

    Big 10 and Fox would be a perfect fit. I hate them both and could ignore both with one channel.

  5. Wow. Fox has completely buried its head in the sand when it comes to the future of cable. Their streaming infrastructure sucks, their dedicated sports channels (FS1, FS2) are irrelevant, and even their traditional network broadcasts are SECN+ quality. Now, they are paying $250M per year to broadcast Penn State-Illinois every week?

    I think the future of college football on TV will feature plans like the Sunday Ticket or the NFL gameplan being the primary revenue driver instead of monthly subscriptions through cable plans. If that’s the case, ESPN & CBS are better long-term partners than Fox, no matter what they pay you.

  6. Otto

    For the playoff expansion proponents another round of expansion could be great.

    4 pods of 4 teams with 3 cross division permanents and 1 rotating opponent. The teams then play in a 2 round playoff. It may acutally be easier to keep rivalries such as UGA/Auburn, Bama/Tenn, UF/LSU, and possibly renew UF/Auburn.

    The catch is, the extra round off playoffs would make the path to the Top 4 even more challenging. An expanded playoff would almost be required.

  7. Jared S.

    What two teams are we going to pick up now? Colorado State and Boise State?

    • Otto

      FSU, and USF. FSU gets nation TV exposure by name alone. Locking down the 3 biggest Florida school helps to lock down the Florida talent. As Kirby has stress talent wins titles. As the SEC knows titles win ratings. Further starting reading on Texas athletes have moved from signing with the BigXII to the SEC after A&M joined the SEC.

      • No way Florida, Georgia and Auburn let F$U into the league. Possibly USF, but they really don’t bring additional eyeballs to the conference package. The only way this would work requires Missouri to move to the West and admission of two schools that would be a geographical fit to the East.

  8. 92 grad

    If Miami doesn’t try every angle possible to join the sec then they’re never going to return to national relevance.

    IMHO, Miami and VT would be good replacements for MO and TAMU.

    • Jared S.

      I liked the pick-up of TAMU, but not Mizzou. Mizzou made no sense (and no, I don’t buy the “Missouri borders several SEC states” argument, because it’s across the Mississippi River from all but one (Arkansas) and there’s no real history of rivalry between Mizzou and the SEC. And it’s not in the South, let alone in the East. It’s in the Mid-West.

      We should’ve picked up TAMU and dropped Vandy and kept 12 teams. and said SCREW YOU to stupid journalists/talking heads clamouring for 16-team super conferences.

    • Why would you think the SEC would kick any schools out, especially when one is in Texas?

      Whatever happens in expansion won’t be driven by the aesthetics of a particular program nearly as much as it will be about broadcast markets.

    • Connor

      Look no further than the Big 10’s additions of powerhouses Rutgers and Maryland for an idea of where the next SEC land grab will be focused. Think metro areas. Then think of the schools near them. SMU and the University of South Florida probably make as much sense to the people calling these shots as Oklahoma and FSU. Not that expanding makes any good sense.

      • Otto

        OU and FSU bring TV viewers but they also look at academics (research $$) especially the school Presidents which have sway. A&M and Mizzou where both good grabs on the academic front.

        http://www.bestcolleges.com/features/colleges-with-highest-research-and-development-expenditures/ A&M in at 22

      • Jared S.

        I live in Maryland and from my informal non-scientific poll of Maryland Alumni and fans, the vast majority HATE the move to the Big10. Mostly because most Maryland sports fans are rabid basketball fans and they loved belonging to the ACC, the best basketball conference in the country. My wife is a Maryland grad (twice), but is a huge UNC fan (where her dad went). She hates Maryland moving because she no longer gets to go to Maryland to watch UNC play every other year. Ha.

        • Otto

          Somewhat ironic and suppose shifting of the time Maryland historically was a front runner for the ACC football title but mid pack in Basketball. Maryland has the 3rd most ACC football championship behind FSU and Clemson which are tied. They are 5th in term of ACC regular season as well ACC tournament championships.

          If I remember my history correctly Maryland and Clemson threatened to leave the ACC about the time So. Carolina did It was a bit surprising to see them leave the ACC when they did.

  9. Semper Fi Dawg

    I might hold off on the conference expansion talk and see if this is more like when NBC overpaid 7 Billion to cover the Olympics and immediately lost 4 billion.

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