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TV Revenues By Conference

May 17, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

We have come to understand that Big Ten football is a printing press…and the Big Ten Network is working overdrive on the greenbacks.

In this article linked from an Oklahoma Newspaper, you see the amazing disparity between what the Big Ten receives from college football television revenues compared to the five other BCS conferences.

Big Ten:  Through the year 2016, the Big Ten will be pulling in $3.8 billion in football television revenue; $2.8 billion from the Big Ten Network agreement that runs through 2032 and $1 billion from ESPN/ABC.  The ABC contract will be extended and for more money, ONLY if the Big Ten wants that.   By then, the Big Ten will look different after its impending expansion, which means more and more dollars from cable companies and advertising.  By then, depending on the reach of the network, it may just choose to have its games played solely on the Big Ten Network, depending on the reach of the channel.  As it stands now, few Big Ten games are televised nationally on ABC; the Michigan-Ohio State game is a national game as are some ABC night games.

I guess you can say that the ESPN and ESPN2 games are ‘national’ in reach as the cable provider is in over 90% of homes in the nation.  That will be an interesting negotiation to watch, and the Big Ten, by 2014 when they will start looking to renew or redo the contract, will have more bargaining power.

One more aspect not factored into this; the control of advertising dollars that will grow from the Big Ten Network that will find its way to the schools, as well as the equity value the member schools have in their 51% share of the BTN (Fox owns the other 49%).

SEC:  They pull in $3.075 billion through 2024 through deals with ABC/ESPN and CBS.  That’s far and away the second best package of any conference, but they don’t own their own network as of yet, and there are no advertising dollars with regards to the upshoot.  Big Ten schools are earning $22 million per year, SEC schools are earning $17 million per year.

Now comes the rest of the college football world…and the drop off is amazing.

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Big 12: With it’s deals with ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports, the Big Ten TV package is worth $558 million…total…and that’s just through 2012.  Fox pays them $78 million with the Mouse picking up the rest.  The Fox deal ends in two years while the ESPN/ABC deal goes through 2016.  The Big Ten and SEC have their monster revenues locked up for more than a decade (more than two decades in the case of the BTN), where the Big 12’s revenues are uncertain beyond 2016…as is the future of their conference, in my opinion.

ACC: $258 million through the year 2011.  So they are going to be renegotiating their deal soon.  I remember when the ACC expanded several years ago, people thought it was going to move them into a huge financial stratus…that has not happened.

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PAC 10: $222 million from ABC/ESPN and Fox, both set to expire in 2012.  Some expansion wonks want to talk about the huge population in California as to how that league can create an attractive TV network.  The reality is they can’t do it; they play in the Pacific Time zone, many of their games start at 10pm eastern time…if there is an east coast bias, there is also a west coast bias in the opposite direction and it has to do with people not watching their games, save the college football die hards.  That’s how you have the 5th least attractive college football television package even though you have the largest state in America.  Combing resources in some fashion with the Big 12 would be a good idea for both leagues.

Big East:   $200 million through 2013 from ABC/ESPN.  See all the money ESPN doles out?  This is how the Big Ten Network was born.  ESPN came to the Big Ten and wanted to establish a partnership and wanted the league to help them flesh out programming for ESPNU several years back.  That’s when the Big Ten brass said, “Umm..good idea.  We’ll do it ourselves.  Thanks.”  The Big East has Pitt, which is in densely populated Pennsylvania…Syracuse in upstate New York…Rutgers in the New York metro…and they have the worst TV deal.

Those teams collectively, playing against one another along with the other member schools, do not create the kind of college football synergy needed to generate large TV revenues.  But pair a Rutgers with the Big Ten, or a Syracuse, and that changes the dynamic because of the brand that is Big Ten football.

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These numbers do not include basketball revenues…just football.  But while the basketball numbers are big to folks like you and me, but they don’t hold a candle to the football revenues.  Nothing does…and football revenues do not hold a candle to the research and grant dollars that have to be considered as we evaluate Big Ten expansion.

These numbers further illustrate the stranglehold the Big Ten has on the sport right now, and why all of college football is waiting to see what moves they make to expand their brand, because it’s going to be the biggest game changer in the history of the sport.

UPDATE:  As I was writing this on Monday morning, there was a published report related to the ACC’s contract.  It has been renewed and the bid won by ABC/ESPN, you can read the details here.  From the item:  “That annual figure of $155 million dwarfs the average of $67 million the league was getting from its previous media deals, which expire at the end of the 2010-11 season, but falls well short of the $205 million a year that the SEC gets from its new 15-year deals with CBS and ESPN.”

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