News quickly hit the internet today that the Pac-12 has reached a deal for it's television rights, and that it is the new biggest, baddest deal in the country for college athletics. The 12 year deal is expected to be worth $3 billion, averaging out to $250 million a year for the conference, and around $20.83 million per year per school. The deal includes football, basketball and Olympic sports rights, with a split between ESPN and Fox.
While this is indeed the richest deal for a conference, one can't help but think that this signals more good news for the Big 12 down the road. The Big 12 recently worked a deal for second tier rights that will average out to about $90 million per year over the life of the deal to the conference. While the deal is expected to be one that increases in value over time, by the expiration of the conference's first-tier media rights in 2015, an average Big 12 school could be expected to bring in about $15 million a year, with Texas bringing in over $30 million, as well as Oklahoma possibly seeing higher income due to third tier rights. Other schools in the conference could also see new money come in via a possible Big 12 Network.
By the time that the Pac-12 is a third of the way into their new deal, the first tier rights for the Big 12 will be up for bid. If Dan Beebe and crew can secure the 3x growth for the first tier rights that they did for the second tier rights, the conference could stand to make $270 million a year, or $27 million per year per school. Obviously, that is pure conjecture, but it's clear that ESPN and Fox are willing to pay up, and it is well known NBC wants in as well.
While the numbers I'm throwing out are highly idealized, I can't imagine that anyone foresaw the massive growth in second tier revenue that the Big 12 stands to receive after this next season. For all the criticism conference officials get, the new television deal seems to be a boon for a conference that includes Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Baylor as nearly half the league.
The new Pac-12 deal also includes all schools ceding all rights to media to the conference in a move that will ultimately bring about a Pac-12 Network. One would be hard pressed, however, to imagine that the Pac-12 Network would have the impact or reach of the Big 10 Network. NBC/Comcast may be a willing partner in this network, which leads one to wonder if Fox will push even harder for a Big 12 Network consisting of events from at least eight Big 12 schools. Oklahoma has been thought to be considering both routes (a sole network or forming a partnership with the remaining eight schools), and a possible addition of the Sooners to a Big 12 Network portfolio could easily mean additional third tier revenue.
So to put it all together - unless you think that ABC/ESPN, Fox, and NBC have suddenly run out of money to spend on college athletics, this deal probably is good news for the Big 12 (as well as Iowa State and our new MONEYMONEYMONEY) and setting a precedent for future Big 12 contracts. The biggest drawback? The increased investment by both Fox and ABC/ESPN may result in even more odd game times and dates come football season.
The dark horse in all of this will be NBC/Comcast. If they decide they want football (and who doesn't want football?), they will be a MAJOR player come 2015.