The Big Ten has set the standard for college conferences and television presentation, anchored by their own cable network. The SEC has a very profitable television deal with CBS and ESPN as well. With the Big Ten expansion scenarios largely focused on expanding television revenue, it makes sense that the Big 12 and ACC are proactive in securing new televisions options.
The Big 12 has recently been involved in a rumor suggesting that the southwestern based conference was exploring an alliance deal with the PAC 10, who at least at one point was exploring expansion similar to the Big Ten. One Big 12 institution though, Texas, seems more interested in securing their own television deal by way of creating their own network that would ideally cover the Longhorns exclusively.
Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds expressed the idea with The Dallas Morning News that institution networks are a better option than a conference network, such as the Big Ten Network. “I always thought that individual institution networks serve institutions better than the conference network,” Dodds said in a Q&A with Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News. “Texas people would rather be able to go to the Texas network and catch all of our sports and all of our events and all of our academic side rather than going to the conference network, where one-twelfth of the inventory will be Texas.”
Perhaps Dodds is on to something, although even splitting the revenue from a conference network 12 ways across a broader range than just Texas may be worth a hard look. Still, Texas is the main attraction in the Big 12 and there might be some value in exploring the possibility of their own individual network. It is clear though that money and television deals are a priority for Texas. “Money is an issue. The TV contracts are an issue. I think the Big Ten is way ahead of us in tradition and years and TV money.”
The ACC is also moving forward with television contracts. While hiding in the shadows of Big Ten expansion rumor after rumor, the rarely reported search for a television contract by the ACC has been overlooked. The ACC was once feared to not be able to break the $100 million mark with their new deal, after ending a contract valued at $67 million per year. So you can imagine the shock when learning that the ACC will earn an annual average of $155 million from a new contract with ESPN. The 12-year, $1.86 billion contract is the result of a bidding war between ESPN and FOX Sports, who emerged as a surprise bidder for the ACC’s football and men’s basketball package.
The future of the Big 12 and television remains a bit foggy and the impending Big Ten expansion could have a major role in what happens with the Big 12. Should the Big 12 lose Missouri to the Big Ten for example, thus taking one of the largest television markets in the conference, the loss of the Tigers would drastically change the appeal of the conference for national television compared to some other leagues. This makes what the ACC has put together most impressive.
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