From the latest installment of “How Does Larry Scott Still Have a Job?“, an ever-continuing series:
Though the Pac-12 has an enviable TV footprint, with five of the top 17 markets in the country — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix and Denver — it doesn’t translate to the balance sheet under the terms of its television deals. The Big Ten distributed as much as $54 million in TV revenue to its schools in the 2018 fiscal year, dwarfing the $29.5 million the Pac-12 paid out. The SEC paid out as much as $43.7 million to its schools, while the Big 12 was at $38.8 million and the A.C.C., whose revenues will get a bump this year with the start of its conference network, was at $29.5 million along with the Pac-12, whose payout decreased by $1.5 million from 2017. [Emphasis added.]
In this day and age of the value of live broadcast, how in the world does a P5 conference with plenty of major TV markets in its wheelhouse pull something like that off? It just takes the right kind of vision from the right kind of visionary.
That’s how long the Pac-12 will have to wait to see if Scott’s big bet pays off: the decision not to partner with ESPN or Fox in forming the Pac-12 Network (as other conference networks have) while waiting to cash in on a bidding war for all its TV rights when they expire — a battle among not just traditional networks but also newer contenders like Amazon and Google.
Or so the hope goes.
At the moment, it has been a costly decision. Not only is the conference left with far less money, it also has far lower viewership because cable and satellite companies aren’t compelled by a partner like ESPN or Fox to take the Pac-12 Network as part of a bundle of sports networks. As a result, the Pac-12 Network, which was introduced seven years ago, is in only 18 million homes, less than a third of the audience for the SEC Network and the Big Ten Network, and about half of that for A.C.C. Network, which started in August.
“We determined that we didn’t want to sell the Pac-12 Network — there was anticipation that it would grow — and when the landscape changed, we’d be able to negotiate a better deal and cash in,” Ray Anderson, Arizona State’s athletic director, said. “That’s been a painful wait.”
The truly amazing thing is that their best scenario has the pain continuing until 2024. And my bet is that Larry “But I feel like it’s my job to regularly think outside the box” Scott will be collecting steady paychecks all along the way.
Man, I’m in the wrong line of work.