Posted on: March 14, 2011 12:50 pm

Big 12 nears new television deal

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last year at this time the Big 12 seemed on the verge of death. Nebraska and Colorado were leaving, and there was a possibility that both Texas and Oklahoma were going to bolt to the new Pac-10 with Colorado. Instead, commissioner Dan Beebe was able to keep the league together by promising larger television revenues, and allowing schools to retain a large portion of their media rights. A decision which helped keep Texas in the fold, and allowed others to follow suit. Texas then used that decision to launch its own television network, and Oklahoma will soon be doing the same.

But what of the other eight remaining schools in the conference? What about their television deal? Well, according to the Sports Business Journal, the Big 12 is nearing a new television deal with Fox.
The Big 12 and Fox are close to finalizing a long-term deal that will pay the 10-team league more than $60 million a year, well up from the $20 million it now receives from its cable contract, industry sources say.
Fox, meanwhile, has been in discussions with eight of the league’s schools about establishing a conference-specific channel for a handful of football games, up to 60 basketball games and Olympic sports. The channel would not include programming from the University of Texas, which has partnered with ESPN on a new Longhorns channel, or the University of Oklahoma, which is planning its own channel, as well.
It's possible that the revenue could reach as much as $70 million a year. Which would still have the Big 12 behind the ACC, Big Ten and SEC as far as revenue is concerned, but is still a major improvement over where the league stands now. The Big 12's current deal with Fox runs through the 2011-2012 school year, but the new deal would run through 2022.

Of course, there is the question of what the new network will be called. Obviously, the logical choice would be the Big 12 Network, but considering that the network can't show Texas or Oklahoma games, no one is sure whether it can go that route just yet. More important than the name of the network, though, is what it could mean for scheduling within the league.

The new network would consist of third-tier games, and right now most of the third-tier games are non-conference games in September. Which would leave the programming slate pretty light in October or November. So it's likely that the Big 12 may begin playing conference games earlier in the schedule in order to spread out non-conference games to be televised later in the season.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 1:19 pm

Fox to broadcast Pac-12 title game

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Pac-10 may still have a game left to play this season with Oregon getting ready to take on Auburn in the title game, but the conference is already moving forward with plans for next season when it will become the Pac-12 and add Colorado and Utah to the conference.  Which means that the conference will now have a championship game, and now the conference has a place to broadcast that game.

It was announced on Thursday that the Pac-12 and Fox had reached a broadcast agreement for the game.
Fox has secured the rights to the Pac-12’s football championship game in '11, giving the network a doubleheader of championship games on Dec. 3. Fox also has the Big Ten’s title game that day. Industry sources said Fox is paying the Pac-12 $25M for the championship game and other game inventory that is the result of the conference’s expansion from 10 teams to 12. The Pac-12’s championship game is valued at around $14.5M, sources said; the other $10.5M is part of a prior contractual obligation. An announcement on the deal is expected later today.
Which means that Fox will now be broadcasting the Pac-10 and Big Ten title games next season, as the network has looked for more opportunities to broadcast college football games since losing the BCS to ESPN.  It also means ESPN will now only have one conference championship to broadcast for the foreseeable future, the ACC Championship.  CBS obviously holds the rights to the SEC Championship.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 1:55 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:05 pm

Report: Texas to earn over $30 million in TV deal

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.

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.

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.

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.

Posted on: October 19, 2010 11:38 am

USC, UCLA to receive more TV money in new Pac-12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While conferences like the Big Ten and SEC have always split revenues from television deals equally amongst the schools within their conferences, that has never been the case in the Pac-10.  In the Pac-10, while the conference splits revenues from bowl appearances and the NCAA basketball tournament, television money has always been distributed according to the number of times each team has appeared on television.

The more often you are on television, the more money you'll get. 

Now you would think that this would change once the conference expands to twelve teams next season, as the conference looks for a new television deal that should be a lot more lucrative than its current deal, and also has its eyes on its own television network like the Big Ten has.  However, according to a report in The Seattle Times, that's not the case.  The current arrangement being discussed would see the two Los Angeles schools, USC and UCLA, getting $2 million more than the ten other schools in the new Pac-12.
Sources familiar with the Pac-10's recent discussions over the expansion issues say the presidents will vote on a proposed $2 million-per-year payout apiece for USC and UCLA above the other 10 members of the new Pac-12 until the year that combined broadcast revenues reach a certain threshold. Then the 12 members would share equally.

That threshold is still in question, and probably will range from $130 million to $170 million annually. Consensus on the number could be fine-tuned already, as Scott is known to have had back-channel talks with presidents as a result of groundwork laid by athletic directors in recent months.
The Pac-10 currently pulls in about $53 million annually from its television deals for football and basketball, though that number should grow by quite a bit when a new deal is struck.  Still, just because the conference should earn a lot more money, that doesn't mean it's guaranteed.  Which, if were to happen, could lead to trouble for the conference down the line.

Just ask the Big 12 what happens when one team gets a bigger piece of the pie than the rest, and other grow tired of being treated like a lesser member of the conference.
Posted on: October 6, 2010 2:26 pm

Pac-10 starting games earlier? Yes, please

Posted by Tom Fornelli

I watch a lot of college football every year.  Some people have always liked to use their Saturdays to go outside or spend time with their families, but I've always preferred watching college kids beat each other up on the gridiron.  I live in Chicago, after all, and it gets cold outside in the fall, I don't want to go out there.

I prefer the comforts of my recliner and the television.  It's because of all this college football that I watch that I'm comfortable saying that I know quite a bit about teams from all over the country, but I'll openly admit that I know less about the teams on the west coast of the country than I do teams in the east, midwest and south.  Some would tell you that this is because of the east-coast bias that exists in the media that largely ignores the other side of the country.

I've no doubt that this plays a part of it, but there's always been a bigger reason for me.  On any given Saturday I'll watch 12 hours of college football, starting at 11am local time through the end of the primetime games at 11pm.  Unfortunately for me, though I would be interested in watching more Pac-10 games, by the time those games kick off I'm a bit worn down.

LaMichael James is hard enough to keep your eyes on while he's flying down the field, when you're eyes are half-closed and glazed over, it's nearly impossible.

Which is why I'm so happy to hear that the Pac-10 is considering earlier start times for their games, which will allow the rest of the country to tune in a bit more.  Last weekend's game between Oregon and Stanford was originally scheduled to start at 8pm PST but was moved up three hours so ABC could feature it as it's primetime game of the week.

Because of the decision, a lot of people who ordinarily wouldn't have had a chance to see either team were able to tune in and see an Oregon offense that is, as Will Brinson put it, like crack on meth.  You'll notice that on Sunday Oregon had leapt Boise State in both the AP and Coaches poll to move in to the top three.

Don't think for a second that having this game seen by the entire country didn't play a role in that.  Before Saturday's game, most people on the east coast had seen Boise State play more often than they had Oregon.

Moving game times to earlier in the day would help the Pac-10 in a lot of areas.  It would give the conference greater exposure throughout the country, which would not only help in possible revenue once the conference launches its own network, but it'll also help the programs expand their recruiting bases to states they don't normally have any access to.

Not to mention that having more games seen nationally would also help get more BCS bowl bids, which in turn lead to more cash money.

Also, there's really no disadvantage to the Pac-10 to do this.  It's not like moving games to noon local time would affect attendance at the home stadiums.  Noon start times work just fine on the east coast, as do 11 am starts throughout the central time zone.

There is a lot of good football being played in the Pac-10 right now, something folks on the west coast already know, but it's about time the rest of the country was given a chance to figure this out as well.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com