Think CBS is the big loser in the SEC’s full embrace of Mickey? Not so fast, my friend.
Whether CBS ends the contract prior to the expiration date isn’t known (at least publicly) at this time, but by the fall of 2024, if not sooner, the SEC will have one broadcast partner: ESPN.
If you thought the most influential network in college sports was SEC-heavy now, just wait.
The financial implications for the Pac-12 are obvious:
The SEC currently distributes approximately $44 million annually to each school.
If we estimate $325 million annually for the SEC ‘Game of the Week’ package, the net gain for the conference (over the current CBS deal) is $270 million.
Or an additional $19 million per school per year.
That would push the SEC’s annual campus distributions to about $63 million — more than the Big Ten’s current Brinks truck delivery ($52 million per school) and approximately double what the Pac-12 currently sends home to each of its 12 members.
And there’s this: The Big Ten’s Tier One deals with Fox and ESPN expire in 2023, one year before the Pac-12’s rights are up.
We should expect that $52 million per-school figure in the Big Ten to increase substantially.
In other words:
Even if the Pac-12 were to receive a whopping 50 percent annual increase in media rights from its next deal(s), it would still lag far behind the SEC and Big Ten in annual take-home pay.
That money is used for facilities, for student-athlete welfare services, for coaching staff salaries and to manipulate non-conference schedules (i.e., buy games) to create the best chance for success.
But that’s not all! What else do we have for our contestants, Jay?
Because the SEC isn’t moving to ESPN just for the money.
Nope, the SEC understands the value of exposure — of providing its greatest export with access to all Disney-owned media outlets.
And you had best believe Disney will make whatever adjustments are necessary once it owns every last shred of SEC football.
The conference already has a Tier One deal with ESPN, and the SEC Network is owned by ESPN.
Add the ‘Game of the Week’ package, and the SEC and ESPN — which means the SEC and Disney — will be one in the same.
Expect to see SEC football all over ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ABC.
Expect to see kickoffs across all the viable broadcast windows, from 12 p.m. Eastern through 9 p.m. Eastern (which is 8 p.m. on some SEC campuses).
Expect to see more than one SEC game on ABC — yep, doubleheaders on broadcast TV.
… Disney isn’t spending $300+ million to acquire a single game each week because it wants that game.
It’s envisioning a 12-hour, multi-network, linear-and-streaming, everywhere-you-turn blast every Saturday for 15 Saturdays, plus whatever it can leverage from the land of ‘It Just Means More’ for the remaining 350 days.
And that’s a problem for the other conferences.
If the SEC gobbles up more ESPN and ABC broadcast windows during prime Eastern/Central viewing hours, there are fewer opportunities for the Pac-12.
And therein lies the real genius of Larry Scott — not in actually getting a great media rights deal for the Pac-12, but in convincing the Pac-12 presidents that pot of gold is always around the corner.