Tag:Pac-12 Network
Posted on: February 17, 2012 1:40 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 2:23 pm
 

SEC paying out record $19.5 million to members

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The SEC is richer than it's ever been--but is it rich enough?

The Birmingham News reported Friday that according to the league's tax documents, the SEC distributed a conference record $19.5 million to each of its member schools for the 2010-2011 season, an increase of $1.2 million on both its 2009-2010 payout and its initial 2011 estimates. Thanks to the new(ish) CBS Sports/ESPN television contracts fueling the increase, those revenues also represent a whopping $6.5 million per-school bump -- a 50 percent increase -- over the league's distribution numbers just two seasons before. 

That's the great news for the SEC. The less-great news is that those figures still leave them a bit behind the Joneses Mike Slive is looking to keep up with in the Big Ten and Pac-12; the Sports Business Journal recently estimated those conferences' per-member distributions* at "close to $21 million," with the growth from their respective networks expected to push those numbers even higher in the coming years. The SEC, meanwhile, is locked into its current contracts until 2023, with TV revenue only increasing 3 percent in the second year of the league's new deals. 

That those revenues will be divided 14 ways rather than 12 following the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri would be another headache for Slive if those additions didn't also open up the possibility for a renegotiation of those television contracts. The ACC's ongoing expansion-triggered renegotiation is expected to net the league an additional $1 to $2 million per team per year--hardly chump change, but likely not the sort of numbers that would keep the SEC even with the Big Ten and Pac-12 come 2017 or '18, much less the tail end of its current contract (which could also be extended as part of the renegotiation).

Make no mistake: the SEC is currently swimming in money, will continue to swim in money, and has the kind of advantages that have nothing to do with money -- overwhelming fan interest, proximity to recruiting hotbeds, a firmly cemented reputation as college football's gold standard -- that will keep it at or near the top of the college football heap. Slive is hardly in crisis management mode. But "or near" may not be good enough for the SEC after its recent run, and a potential $4 or $5 million gap per-school between the league and its Midwestern/West Coast "rivals" -- sustained over a period of years -- could (or would?) eventually even (or even tilt) the playing field. 

Times are no doubt very, very good for the SEC both on the field and in its checkbook. But the upcoming negotiations between the league and its TV partners will likely play a huge role in whether future times are as very good or not.

*The SBJ also estimated the SEC's distribution figure at only $17 million, which could be either a good sign or a bad one from an SEC perspective; if that figure was simply wrong while the Big Ten's and Pac-12's was accurate, then the gap isn't as wide as believed. But if the SBJ was simply being conservative across the board and the B1G's/P12's numbers are also underestimated, it would mean those leagues' networks and TV deals have established a substantial financial edge even before they really get rolling.    

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:14 pm
 

Roundtable: College football valentines

Posted by Eye on College Football



Occasionally the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron-style to answer a pressing question in the world of college football. Today's query:

It's Valentine's Day, so pick someone or something from college football--person, team, conference, whatever. Who should they be sending a valentine to today, and what does that valentine say?

Bryan FischerI think the athletic directors at Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Washington and Washington State should be sending a Valentine to Larry Scott this year. The Pac-12 commissioner unveiled his Pac-12 Network studios just yesterday, and that's appropriate considering the media deals he negotiated were the biggest reason those schools were able to off the sweetheart deals that landed their new coaches. Do you think the Bruins or Huskies could have afforded the assistant salaries before that money started flowing? Or that Wazzu was able to land a coach like Mike Leach? I don't think they do.

I'm guessing their valentine says something to the affect of, "Thank$ Larry for everything, hope you'll be our Valentine for several more years."

Tom Fornelli:  I'm going to say TCU and West Virginia owe Missouri and Texas A&M a valentine this year, one with some expensively-licensed cartoon character saying "Thanks for the sloppy seconds!" If not for those two leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, then both TCU and WVU are stuck in the Big East for 2012 at least--a Big East that's without a clear future at the moment, and seems en route to becoming Conference USA version 2.0.

Instead the Frogs and Mountaineers have joined the Big 12, which is in much better shape than the Big East and will provide far more money for both schools in the long run.

Jerry Hinnen: If I'm Mike Slive, I'm sending out a valentine to Dana Holgorsen -- or maybe Gus Malzahn, or Mike Leach, or Todd Monken -- saying "WILL YOU BE MINE?" festooned with as many hearts (and dollar signs) as it takes to convince them to try their hand (again, in Malzahn's case) in the SEC. There's no doubting the SEC's dominance on the defensive side of the ball or its overall array of talent, but the 2011 season also showed a league in dire need of an infusion of offensive ingenuity, preferably (for variety's sake) out of the spread school. Alabama's yawn-inducing strangulation of LSU in the BCS title game is Exhibit A for the conference's current cloud-of-dust tendencies, but the overall statistical picture is even more damning: six different SEC teams finished in the bottom 25 in the FBS in total offense, with zero finishing in the FBS top 25. (Arkansas ranked highest at 29th.) 

Some of that is good defense; an awful lot of it is terrible offense, too. And it may get worse before it gets better--look at the likes of former offensive juggernauts Florida and Auburn, currently undergoing dramatic offensive regime changes after regressing badly in 2011.

Defense may win championships, but offense often wins TV ratings, as the BCS championship Nielsens will tell you. The SEC's current regular season ratings are fine, of course, but Slive is about to go back to the negotiating table to try and keep his TV contract up with the Joneses of the Big Ten and Pac-12, a table to which he'll want to bring every single positive for his league he can gets his hands on. The SEC will be a-OK with or without the Big 12's reputation for high-flying offensive theatrics, but that doesn't mean Slive -- and a league full of fans likely tiring of watching Tennessee and South Carolina combine for 17 points and barely more than 500 yards in nationally televised prime-time -- wouldn't welcome someone who could shake up the conference's burgeoning reputation for Slugfest-with-a-capital-S football. Kevin Sumlin gets first crack, but we're guessing Slive would prefer he had some high-profile help sooner rather than later.

Chip Patterson: If I'm Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, I'm sending roses, candy, banners, and thankful notes to new head coach Urban Meyer.  Even with an ill-timed bowl ban from the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Meyer has cooled much of the heat on Smith after the fallout surrounding Jim Tressel's departure.  Winning cures all, but hiring a two-time national champion to supposedly guide your program out of the darkness will certainly hold the Buckeye fans over until the bowl ban is lifted.  Meyer hit the recruiting trail hard after his hire, pulling in a top-5 recruiting class despite the sanctions from the NCAA.  

If Smith had whiffed on his hire to replace Tressel, he would find himself under further scrutiny with the additional sanctions.  Meyer is exactly the home run hire Ohio State -- and Gene Smith -- needed.  In fact, a valentine might not be enough.  Maybe Smith should get a tattoo. 

What? Too soon? 

Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:35 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 12:37 pm
 

Pac-12 extends Larry Scott's contract through '16

Posted by Chip Patterson

In a unanimous decision of all 12 university presidents, the Pac-12 has decided to extend the contract of Commissioner Larry Scott through 2016, with options to add two more years in the future.

“My fellow board members and I are delighted to have reached a long-term agreement with the commissioner to continue his excellent work on behalf of the Pac-12,” said Ed Ray, President of Oregon State University and Chairman of the Pac-12 Board in an official release. “We are on the brink of a period of extraordinary accomplishment and excellence throughout the Pac-12 and Larry’s continued leadership and vision for the Conference are critical elements in realizing that potential.”

Scott became commissioner of the Pac-12 in July 2009, after serving six years as Chairman and CEO of the Sony Erricsson WTA Tour. In his first two years with the conference, Scott has rebranded and reshaped the Pac-12's standing among the major NCAA conferences. He led the league through the first expansion since 1978, negotiated a record-setting media rights agreement with FOX and ESPN, is responsible for the creation of the Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Digital Network, and helped delver equal revenue sharing for the first time in conference history.

Larry Scott, 47, has been praised for his innovation and leadership during arguably one of the most volatile periods for major conferences in college athletics. The media rights deal and creation of the Pac-12 Network has changed the landscape for negotiations in the future, and recently developed a globalization initiative "that will allow the conference to pursue new frontiers for member institutions."

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 8:33 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 8:35 pm
 

Pac-12 looking at changing dates of rivalry games

Posted by Bryan Fischer

2012 will mark the end of several historic rivalries (Texas-Texas A&M and Missouri-Kansas to name a few) due to conference realignment and while the school shuffling won't end any of the Pac-12's longstanding rivalry games, it might force a few of them to move to a different date on the calendar.

According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, games such as the Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State and the Big Game between Stanford and California could be moved from their traditional late November dates to earlier in the month or even October.

“Given the complexities of the scheduling,” Pac-12 deputy commissioner Kevin Weiberg told Jon Wilner, “we can’t commit to having the rivalry games stay on Thanksgiving week or the weekend before Thanksgiving.”

Obviously the league office is going to try to be as accommodating as possible and will look to minimize the scheduling issues but with the new Pac-12 media deal with ESPN/Fox starting next year and the launch of the Pac-12 Network, it's likely that not every game will be able to stay in its traditional spot on the schedule. The report notes that the number of Saturdays in the month of November will likely determine how many and which games move. Sources told Wilner that the Bay Area game is the most likely to be moved next season.

The situation can’t be avoided. The conference has limited flexibility with the schedule due to several factors:

* The Pac-12 championship game now occupies the first weekend in December, thereby eating up a Saturday previous used by some schools for their 12th regular-season game.

* The Thanksgiving Saturday games involving Stanford (odd years) and USC (even years) against Notre Dame.

* The reluctance on the part of some schools to play rivalry games on Thanksgiving weekend.

One of the best things about football in the conference formerly known as the Pac-10 was that each school had a natural rival in the state that made for a continent travel partner. The move to the Pac-12 will fill the coffers every athletic department but if there's a price to be paid, it's that they might have an earlier than usual rivalry game.

It might be disruptive to a few and upsetting for some fans but looks like something that nobody can do anything about.



Posted on: August 31, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Even post-A&M, 16-team conferences are no lock

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



Texas A&M
announced Wednesday it would apply to join "another conference," a conference that even the tubeworms living without sunlight at the bottom of the Pacific could tell you* is the SEC. The Aggies will certainly-as-certainly-gets make 13 for Mike Slive's league, and since a 13-team conference with one 6-team division and one 7-team division is the college football equivalent of a table with one leg an inch too short, expect the SEC to find a 14th team sooner rather than later.

The question begged by A&M's arrival is this: why now? During Expansionpalooza 2010, Slive and the SEC seemed more than happy to stand pat with the same 12 teams and two divisions that have made them the sport's proverbial 500-pound gorilla, the elephant no one has proven capable of shoving out of the room. But come 2011, when the Aggies called griping about the changes in their neighborhood, Slive was happy to ask them to move into his.

Ask many fans and pundits, and they'll tell you the A&M invite is Slive's preemptive strike against Larry Scott and the Pac-12 and Jim Delany and the Big Ten, the two commissioners and conferences that -- the argument goes -- are poised to usher in the era of 16-team "superconferences," wresting away control of the sport ... if Slive doesn't beat them to the punch.

But adding Texas A&M isn't about what Scott and Delany might have in the future. It's about what they have right now.

Namely, it's about the television networks that those conference have or will have, and that the SEC version that Slive shortsightedly passed on when he signed the league's current deals with CBS and (more to the point where the league network is concerned) ESPN. While the Big Ten Network's revenues skyrocket and the Pac-12's TV revenues are set outdo the SEC's even before the league's network starts airing, the SEC is scheduled to earn the exact same amount in TV money in 2023 they are today ... when the league's contract is already below market value.

Whether the SEC's expansion will give them enough re-negotiation leverage to either get an SEC network off the ground -- or just keep pace with the Pac-12 in base contract value -- remains a matter of conjecture. But if any expansion choice could do it, you'd think Texas A&M would. The Aggies expand the league's "footprint" into Texas, have close ties to the major-major Houston market, have a massive alumni base, and have traditionally been a highly competitive, nationally relevant football program.

But even the Aggies might make not that much of an impact on the SEC's bottom line. Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson told CNBC this week that "there are smart people at both ESPN and CBS and I would anticipate that they foresaw this type of contingency ... if there's any adjustment to the TV deals, I would anticipate that it would be a very modest adjustment." Pilson wouldn't even guarantee that after A&M's addition, the SEC's per-school revenue distribution would match what it is now.

That may be selling the Aggies short. But it nonetheless speaks to why even after the A&M-SEC marriage, the age of the 16-team superconference is not yet upon us. Conference expansion isn't as simple as adding a team, sitting back, and watching the bottom line swell; that team has to add enough value to offset the significant division of league profits by 13 (and then, inevitably, 14) rather than 12. There's other substantial drawbacks, too: increased travel costs, fewer games for current members against their existing rivals**, stiffer competition for the league's limited number of national broadcasts (and, you know, championships).

Which is why "superconferences" likely remain firmly in the distant -- rather than the near -- future. If it takes adding Syracuse and Rutgers for the Big Ten to get up to 16 teams, why would they bother? If the new-look Pac-16 includes the likes of Fresno State or even Boise State -- still not exactly a major-market media powerhouse -- that's not exactly going to force Slive's hand. And assuming the SEC's "gentleman's agreement" not to expand into current SEC states is still intact, who would Slive pull for teams No. 15 and 16? The current whispers are that if Virginia Tech stands by its ACC man (as they say they will), the SEC could look at N.C. State--a member that would give the SEC the Raleigh TV market but (with all due respect) wouldn't have Scott and Delany crying into their respective beers.

The one scenario that could overturn the whole apple cart is Texas deciding to listen to Scott's overtures this go-round and dragging the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with them. But given the Longhorns' already-substantial investment in the Longhorn Network, here's a guess that neither they nor ESPN is going to like sharing their rare live content with the partially Fox-owned Pac-12 Network. And if the Longhorns either stay committed to the Big 12 or go independent, the Pac-12 could add some value by snapping up the Sooners and Cowboys ... but again, are there enough schools out there to justify going to 16?

When even adding A&M to go from 12 to 13 isn't a hands-down slam-dunk for the SEC -- and given that it's a backwards-looking desperation move motivated by the need to repair an earlier mistake, not a forward-looking "gotta do it" type of decision, how can it be? -- the guess here is that no, those schools are not.

14 may indeed be the new 12, but 16 remains what 14 was when the SEC first expanded in 1992--a number major college football will probably reach at some point in the future, but one that's not more than an intriguing hypothetical in the present.

*Trust me, I asked them. They added they were sick of hearing about expansion and scandal and just wanted the season to start.

**In the particular case of A&M and the SEC, this doesn't apply to LSU and Arkansas; the Tigers and Razorbacks have more history with A&M than they do many of their current SEC brethren.



Posted on: August 31, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Even post-A&M, 16-team conferences are no lock

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



Texas A&M
announced Wednesday it would apply to join "another conference," a conference that even the tubeworms living without sunlight at the bottom of the Pacific could tell you* is the SEC. The Aggies will certainly-as-certainly-gets make 13 for Mike Slive's league, and since a 13-team conference with one 6-team division and one 7-team division is the college football equivalent of a table with one leg an inch too short, expect the SEC to find a 14th team sooner rather than later.

The question begged by A&M's arrival is this: why now? During Expansionpalooza 2010, Slive and the SEC seemed more than happy to stand pat with the same 12 teams and two divisions that have made them the sport's proverbial 500-pound gorilla, the elephant no one has proven capable of shoving out of the room. But come 2011, when the Aggies called griping about the changes in their neighborhood, Slive was happy to ask them to move into his.

Ask many fans and pundits, and they'll tell you the A&M invite is Slive's preemptive strike against Larry Scott and the Pac-12 and Jim Delany and the Big Ten, the two commissioners and conferences that -- the argument goes -- are poised to usher in the era of 16-team "superconferences," wresting away control of the sport ... if Slive doesn't beat them to the punch.

But adding Texas A&M isn't about what Scott and Delany might have in the future. It's about what they have right now.

Namely, it's about the television networks that those conference have or will have, and that the SEC version that Slive shortsightedly passed on when he signed the league's current deals with CBS and (more to the point where the league network is concerned) ESPN. While the Big Ten Network's revenues skyrocket and the Pac-12's TV revenues are set outdo the SEC's even before the league's network starts airing, the SEC is scheduled to earn the exact same amount in TV money in 2023 they are today ... when the league's contract is already below market value.

Whether the SEC's expansion will give them enough re-negotiation leverage to either get an SEC network off the ground -- or just keep pace with the Pac-12 in base contract value -- remains a matter of conjecture. But if any expansion choice could do it, you'd think Texas A&M would. The Aggies expand the league's "footprint" into Texas, have close ties to the major-major Houston market, have a massive alumni base, and have traditionally been a highly competitive, nationally relevant football program.

But even the Aggies might make not that much of an impact on the SEC's bottom line. Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson told CNBC this week that "there are smart people at both ESPN and CBS and I would anticipate that they foresaw this type of contingency ... if there's any adjustment to the TV deals, I would anticipate that it would be a very modest adjustment." Pilson wouldn't even guarantee that after A&M's addition, the SEC's per-school revenue distribution would match what it is now.

That may be selling the Aggies short. But it nonetheless speaks to why even after the A&M-SEC marriage, the age of the 16-team superconference is not yet upon us. Conference expansion isn't as simple as adding a team, sitting back, and watching the bottom line swell; that team has to add enough value to offset the significant division of league profits by 13 (and then, inevitably, 14) rather than 12. There's other substantial drawbacks, too: increased travel costs, fewer games for current members against their existing rivals**, stiffer competition for the league's limited number of national broadcasts (and, you know, championships).

Which is why "superconferences" likely remain firmly in the distant -- rather than the near -- future. If it takes adding Syracuse and Rutgers for the Big Ten to get up to 16 teams, why would they bother? If the new-look Pac-16 includes the likes of Fresno State or even Boise State -- still not exactly a major-market media powerhouse -- that's not exactly going to force Slive's hand. And assuming the SEC's "gentleman's agreement" not to expand into current SEC states is still intact, who would Slive pull for teams No. 15 and 16? The current whispers are that if Virginia Tech stands by its ACC man (as they say they will), the SEC could look at N.C. State--a member that would give the SEC the Raleigh TV market but (with all due respect) wouldn't have Scott and Delany crying into their respective beers.

The one scenario that could overturn the whole apple cart is Texas deciding to listen to Scott's overtures this go-round and dragging the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with them. But given the Longhorns' already-substantial investment in the Longhorn Network, here's a guess that neither they nor ESPN is going to like sharing their rare live content with the partially Fox-owned Pac-12 Network. And if the Longhorns either stay committed to the Big 12 or go independent, the Pac-12 could add some value by snapping up the Sooners and Cowboys ... but again, are there enough schools out there to justify going to 16?

When even adding A&M to go from 12 to 13 isn't a hands-down slam-dunk for the SEC -- and given that it's a backwards-looking desperation move motivated by the need to repair an earlier mistake, not a forward-looking "gotta do it" type of decision, how can it be? -- the guess here is that no, those schools are not.

14 may indeed be the new 12, but 16 remains what 14 was when the SEC first expanded in 1992--a number major college football will probably reach at some point in the future, but one that's not more than an intriguing hypothetical in the present.

*Trust me, I asked them. They added they were sick of hearing about expansion and scandal and just wanted the season to start.

**In the particular case of A&M and the SEC, this doesn't apply to LSU and Arkansas; the Tigers and Razorbacks have more history with A&M than they do many of their current SEC brethren.



Posted on: June 27, 2011 3:04 pm
 

iPac? Pac-12 Network could be all digital

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott topped the CBSSports.com Top 100 this year in large part because of his forward-thinking ability and business savvy. While people always assumed that he was a visionary, perhaps we were underestimating his ability to actually see into the future.

According to the always on top of things Jon Wilner of The San Jose Mercury News, one of the options for the soon to come Pac-12 Network is actually a "whopper" (his term, not mine, but accurate) of an idea that would skip a traditional TV network in favor of a non-subscriber based approach that would see the conference partner with tech giants Apple or Google instead of cable distributors like Time Warner, Comcast or Cox.

iPac anyone? GoogleTV-12? It's all on the table for Scott according to Wilner:

"Instead of turning on your TV to watch the Pac-12 Network, you’d turn on your computer (or tablet or mobile phone).

The drawback to this approach is that in the short term, the conference would give up the revenue that comes from subscription fees — it would rely on advertising alone for revenue.

But because of the $250 million flowing in annually from the Fox/ESPN, the league has financial flexibility — it can select the network structure that best fits its philosophy and long-term needs, even if that’s not the most lucrative near-term option."

Wilner also presents two other options for the Pac-12 Network and they are pretty standard: 1. Take an existing channel and rebrand it; 2. Start a new channel from scratch. Both options would take several million dollars in start up capital which might make the school presidents pause a bit.

In talking with several people in the industry and at the conference office, the most likely option is a combination of all three. This would involve taking an existing channel (such as league partner Fox Sports's Los Angeles-based Prime Ticket channel) and rebranding it, with new offices and studios in either Los Angeles or San Francisco and adding a large digital network component to complement it.

Regardless what form the Pac-12 Network takes upon launch next year, chances are it ends up being bold, bleeding edge and forward-thinking.

In other wards, expect Larry Scott's fingerprints all over it.
Posted on: April 6, 2011 11:43 am
 

Pac-12 Network "a done deal"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When last we heard from the San-Jose Mercury-News's Jon Wilner on the state of the Pac-12's new television agreements, a "Pac-12 Network" was something the newly-expanded league definitely wanted (for Olympic sports coverage as much as the heightened football profile) but hadn't fully committed to.

According to Wilner today, though, that status has changed:
I’ve also been told by a source familiar with the league’s business model that a Pac-12 Network is more than a negotiating ploy on Scott’s part (which is what some analysts and college sports officials believe).

The network is a done deal and will be launched in Aug. ‘12, in conjunction with the league’s broadcast partner.

The emphasis here is Wilner's; clearly, it's information he's willing to stand behind.

But as he points out, starting up such a network is one thing. Turning it into the money machine the Big Ten Network has become is another. A protracted subscriber-fee battle between the league and Time Warner Cable, the dominant cable provider in California, could become an even more bitter version of the infamous standoff between the Big Ten and Comcast in 2008.

If that's the biggest headline from Wilner's story, there's several more juicy details included, all of which are good news for Pac-12 fans and its member schools:
  • Thanks to the huge sums paid out to the Big 12 (by Fox Sports) and Texas (by ESPN for the forthcoming Longhorn Network), the estimates for the Pac-12's new deal have been ratcheted upwards. Commissioner Larry Scott will reportedly be asking for "a more lucrative contract than the $205 million annual deal the SEC signed with CBS and ESPN three years ago." A deal with dollar figures anywhere near that ballpark would increase each school's annual television cut by millions.
  • Though ESPN and Turner Broadcasting could bid for the league rights, the finalists are expected to be Fox Sports and Comcast. The league has allowed Fox's exclusive negotiating window to expire, presumably in order to see what Comcast (or a third party) would be willing to pony up. L.A.-based Fox may still the favorite, though, with their recent loss of Laker rights to Time Warner fueling the need to provide USC and UCLA games to the Los Angeles market.
  • Once the national broadcast "platform" is in place, the league is expected to schedule weekly Thursday or Friday night football games.
Though little of this is set in stone, one thing is clear: the days of Pac-12 football (and basketball) being the hardest power-conference action to find on the dial will be over soon.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com