Posted by Tom Fornelli
One of the big stumbling blocks that kept Texas from packing up and leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-10 this summer was the fact that the school wanted to create its own television network, and the Pac-10 wouldn't let them because the conference had plans to launch a network of its own. So eventually the Big 12 caved and promised Texas that it would get a larger cut of the conference's television revenue and be allowed to start its own network.
Judging by the looks of things, this was a very good decision for Texas, and could end up being a terrible one for the Big 12's future. According to a report on Orangebloods.com, a television deal the school has struck with ABC/ESPN could see Texas pulling in about $30 million in revenue next season.
The new agreement between Texas and ESPN for the Longhorn Network includes a $10 million payment up front, sources said. It also would make Texas the top TV revenue-producing school in the country, earning close to $30 million next year in TV revenue and more than $32 million beginning in 2012-13, sources said.Now if you're another member of the Big 12 who has already had to agree with letting Texas get a bigger piece of the pie, and now find out that the school will already be getting this much money on its own from ESPN, how would that make you feel? While conferences may tell you that the grand plan to expand and form giant super-conferences is dormant, I don't buy that for a second.
Schools in the SEC currently earn $17 million per year in TV revenue under 15-year contracts with ABC/ESPN and CBS that began in the fall of 2009. Big Ten schools currently earn roughly $20 million per year from the Big Ten Network in a 20-year contract with operating partner Fox that began in August 2007.
According to sources, Fox had guaranteed Texas $2 million per year to distribute the Longhorn Network to cable systems that included at least 500,000 viewers. Then, ESPN came in and provided a bid six times larger with a viewership that reaches from coast-to-coast, sources said.
You think the Big Ten or SEC won't go calling other Big 12 schools at this point and let them know that in their conference they'd be an equal member?
So this may work out great for Texas, but it could also mean the end of the Big 12. I sure hope Dan Beebe got the money in his new contract extension up front.