Rivals.com recently broke down the television media rights deals for the six BCS conferences. As you may have heard, the Pac-12 landed a massive television media rights contract that will give each league member an average of $21 million annually over the life of the 12-year deal. So how does that compare to the recent deal that the ACC struck with ESPN? Here's what Rivals had to say about the ACC's deal:
"At the time, the ACC seemed to sign an over-market-value deal. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore, and the ACC now risks falling behind the Pac-12 in terms of how much power it wields."
The ACC's deal gives each conference member an estimated payout of $11.9 million per year for the next 12 years. That seemed like a pretty good deal at the time, but now both the Big 12 and the Pac-12 have gone and one-upped the conference.
Pac-12 schools will bring in an estimated $21 mil a year with the conference's new media rights deal, while the Big Ten ($18.3 mil) and SEC ($17.1 mil) follow closely behind. The Big 12's new media rights deal is complicated as revenue won't be shared equally, and the actual figures weren't released as the Pac-12 were in negotiations at the time. All you have to know is that you want to be Texas, who is starting its own television network and stands to make $15 million a year all by itself. But the ACC's deal likely is smaller than even the Big 12's deal, who has two less mouths to feed now that Nebraska and Colorado have bolted to greener pastures.
Which leaves the Big East, who is the last of the Big Six to renegotiate its TV package. The Big East's current deal ends in 2013. And even though the Big East appeared set to sign a deal with ESPN right when the Pac-12 was getting showered with cash, it now looks like the league will now hold off on negotiating its next TV rights deal until they figure expansion out.
Big East Commissioner Marinatto believes that waiting an extra year to renegotiate the contract will pay off big time 16 months from now:
"There's a distinct advantage in going last and with the marketplace continually resetting ... the Pac 12 has reset the marketplace once again," Marinatto said. "It's setting the stage for us providing we're deliberate and aggressive in order to monetize our rights in a fashion that's as similar to what they've done."
True, there is an advantage to going last, but there's also a neat little concept known as shelf space that someone might want to whisper in Marinatto's ear. Not to mention there's still this unfinished business around Big East expansion. The coaches want a 12-team league. TCU makes nine members. Villanova, if they can convince the dissenting football programs to welcome them aboard, makes ten. Representatives from East Carolina, Central Florida and Houston are standing by, and you might also give Temple and Buffalo a call while you are at it.
Whether or not Marinatto can deliver on both Big East football expansion and the conference's TV media rights deal remains to be seen. But the possibility remains that if Marinatto can keep the basketball and football sides of the house together, reel in a lucrative TV deal, and successfully expand football to a 10 or 12 member league, the Big East could likely garner the same type of money that the ACC is getting from ESPN. It's a big if, but still a possibility.
This would leave the ACC as one of the two poorest BCS conferences when it comes to media rights over the several years. This is unfortunate. For a conference that owns the rights to such college sports titles such as Duke-Carolina hoops, Florida State-Miami football, the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament and the ACC Football Championship (don't laugh!), our TV deal doesn't seem to match the value of the properties the conference owns relative to the Pac-12 and Big 12 deals.
Unless the conference votes to expand to a nine game football schedule (which wouldn't take effect until the 2016 season), an 18-game basketball schedule or changes the composition of the conference (likely reactionary moves rather than proactive), this will be where the ACC stands in the pecking order of conference media rights deals.
Now before Swofford can claim poverty on his TV deal, it's still all relative. It's still good to be a BCS conference member. Consider that the Mountain West's deal with CBS College Sports, which runs through 2014, nets each conference member just $1.3 million annually. Conference USA, also with CBS College Sports, also receives about $1.3 million annually. Is it any wonder why representatives at East Carolina and Central Florida are standing by, waiting for a call from John Marinatto?