You know, it seems like the bloom started coming off the Pac-12 Network’s rose almost before the media could get the phrase “Larry Scott is a genius!” out of its mouth. The SEC rejected Scott’s ownership model when it came time to create its own network and found a much friendlier market, much to Scott’s displeasure.
And now comes the rest of the story.
So if you’re scoring at home, we have these projections for TV-related revenue for 2017-18, on a per-school basis:
SEC: $35.6 million
Big Ten: $33 million
Pac-12: $22.95 million
That’s a monumental gap, folks.
It’s reminiscent of the difference in revenue that existed under the Pac-12′s old Tier 1 deal.
It could impact the competitive balance, the ability to hire top-notch coaches and manage the looming increase in expenses due to legislative changes and the O’Bannon lawsuit.
To be fair, Scott has always faced an uphill battle. It’s not as if he’s done poorly. It’s just, you know, demographics.
To some extent, there is nothing the Pac-12 can do:
The SEC and Big Ten are always going to command more Tier 1 money than the Pac-12. A quick check of the ESPN metered markets is proof:
Of the top-25 markets in 2014, only three were in the Pac-12 footprint and none were in the top 10:
No. 13 Salt Lake City
No. 17: Portland
No. 25 Phoenix
Meanwhile, eight of the top 10 were in the SEC, including perennial No. 1 Birmingham.
If you’re wondering why the conference chased Texas so hard a few years ago, there you go. And it’s hard to see how it gets out of the revenue box it’s in without that kind of expansion in the future.
The looming TV revenue gap between the Pac-12 and its peers isn’t a Tier 1 issue. Scott got the best deal he could get.
The problem, as we’ll examine, is the Pac-12 Networks.
There just aren’t enough eyeballs to go around. And it doesn’t take a genius to see that.