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Televison Contract Breakdown

UPDATED INFO AVAILABLE: Kristi has posted an updated breakdown of the television contracts on ESPN.com (5/10/12).

My search for details on all of the current television deals for each conference in one place failed. Which must mean BusinessofCollegeSports.com needs to compile all the details in one easy-to-find place, right?

To understand the chart, you first need to understand the types of rights available. Here is a very general explanation. First-tier rights are for football and/or basketball games broadcast nationally. Second-tier rights are for football and/or basketball games not selected by the first-tier rights holder. Third-tier rights are any games not selected by the first or second-tier rights holders and rights for all sports other than football and basketball. These rights are often sold on a per-school basis (not negotiated by the conference as a whole) and often go to regional networks (like Comcast Sports Southeast, Raycom, or SportsNet New York) or can be reserved for networks like the Big Ten Network and the Texas Longhorn Network.

All that being said, deals are now being done for multiple tiers. For example, the Pac-12’s new deal with ESPN and Fox covers first and second tier rights. Meanwhile, the ACC’s new deal that begins this fall covers football,  men’s and women’s basketball, Olympic sports and all conference championship games. Basically, it’s an all-inclusive package with a sublicensing arrangement in place with Raycom for games not broadcast by ESPN.

First-Tier Rights Term of First-Tier Rights Second-Tier Rights Term of Second-Tier Rights Total Per Year Average
Big 12  $480,000,000 (ESPN) 8 Years $1,170,000,000 (Fox) 13 Years $150,000,000
08/09-15/16 12/13-24/25
Pac-12 $3,000,000,000 (ESPN and Fox) for first and second-tier; 12 years (12/13-23/24) $250,000,000
ACC $1,860,000,000 (ESPN) for all-inclusive; 12 years (11/12-22/23) $155,000,000
SEC $825,000,000 (CBS) 15 Years $2,250,000,000 (ESPN) 15 Years $205,000,000
09/10-23/24 9/10-23/24
Big Ten $1,000,000,000 (ESPN) 10 Years $2,800,000,000 (BTN) 25 Years $212,000,000
06/07-15/16 07/08-31/32
Big East $200,000,000 (ESPN) 6 Years $54,000,000 (CBS) 6 Years $42,333,333
06/07-11/12 7/8-12/13

Some caveats are in order now that you’ve seen the chart. Keep in mind that the per year number is an average. It is not necessarily what each school gets each year. A number of these contracts have escalator clauses, including the new Pac-10/12 contract. In the early years of that contract, it will be $180 million per year (or $15 million per school) and in the later years it escalates, according to Larry Scott via conference call on Wednesday following the contract’s announcement.

Though it doesn’t fit in the chart, you can’t forget the money Texas is receiving for The Longhorn Network. They’ve been guaranteed $300 million over the next 20 years from ESPN. Similarly, the amount listed above for Big Ten Network revenue is a projected amount which could grow if the network exceeds expectations.

Deals for third-tier rights are too cumbersome to cover here. Some third-tier rights are bundled by conferences and sold to regional networks while others are retained by schools and sold individually to local or regional networks. More on that in a future post.

The next contract we expect to hear about is out of the Big East. Rumors of a new deal have been circulating lately and reports have it that they were close to a deal with ESPN but considering shopping on the open market. Numbers floating around for a deal with ESPN were in the $110-130 million range per year, which would more than triple their current contract. With the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 now all on the ESPN family of stations, can the Big East get a deal with enough exposure from them?

And what will happen with the Big 12’s first-tier rights? I’ve heard a lot of comparisons between their recent deal with Fox and the Pac-10/12’s  new deal announced yesterday with ESPN. I think it’s comparing apples to oranges. It should be no big shock that the Pac-10/12 would receive more money for their first tier rights than the Big 12 received for their second tier rights. Let’s wait and see what kind of dough the Big 12 commands when their first tier rights are up for grabs in the next few years.

UPDATE: I’ve posted school-specific broadcasting revenue from third tier rights sold individually here.

Special thanks to Mark Ennis of Big East Coast Bias for helping me track down the elusive value of CBS’s contract with the Big East!

About Kristi Dosh

Kristi A. Dosh is the founder of BusinessofCollegeSports.com and has served as a sports business analyst and contributor for outlets such as Forbes, ESPN, SportsBusiness Journal, Bleacher Report, SB Nation and more. She is also the author of a book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires. Kristi is a sought-after consultant and speaker on topics related to the business of college sports and a former practicing attorney. Click to learn more
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