As news broke Wednesday about the Big 12's new $1.2 billion TV deal with Fox, my thoughts naturally jumped to what this means for the Pac-12 -- and, by extension, WSU -- as conference commissioner Larry Scott continues to try and put the pitiful $60-million-a-year media rights contract in the rear view mirror.
First thought: "Whoa! That's a huge number!"
Second thought: "Will the Pac-12's deal now be higher or lower than initially thought?"
Third thought: "Does this mean we have to stop making fun of Dan Beebe now?"
On the first thought, yes, the number is large, but not as large as you might think. It's a 13-year deal for an average of $90 million annually, and its just for cable broadcasts -- on Fox Sports Network and F/X. When combined with their current ABC/ESPN deal, it brings the total package up to $130 million for 10 schools. For perspective, the SEC gets about $205 million annually out of the deal it signed two years ago for its 12 teams.
So, it's not like the Big 12 is breaking the bank, which means you can continue to laugh at Beebe as much as you want. Especially when you remember that a disproportionate amount of that $130 million is going to go to Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, before the crumbs fall to the weak sisters of the poor.
As for the Pac-12 and its negotiations? The thought from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News -- who has been out in front of this story on the negotiations from the beginning -- is that this Big 12 deal is still great news for the west coast's premier conference.
First off, he says this Big 12 deal is a 350 percent increase over its previous cable deal, which shows just how hot the market is for live sports properties. Remember, this is just for the second-tier cable inventory, and also includes the provision for each school to reserve the rights to one home game for broadcast on its own network, which obviously devalues the deal to some degree.
Second, there are still plenty of networks out there who want live sports:
Comcast, Fox, Disney and Turner want live sports, but there are only two major domestic sports properties available this year: The NHL and the Pac-12.
The underrated aspect of this? Fox appears to want live sports not just for its FSN properties, but for its broadcast channel and for its other cable properties such as F/X. The former is slated to carry the Big Ten and Pac-12 championship games, while the latter is now going to carry a large number of Big 12 games and a handful of Pac-12 games this year. While bringing F/X into the fold might not seem like a big deal, consider this: ESPN is available in about 99 million households; F/X is available in 98 million.
Same goes for Comcast, Disney and Turner -- all own multiple broadcast properties looking to either get into or expand live sports coverage in order to charge cable companies more to subscribe to their channels -- that market is getting more and more competitive, as shown by recent standoffs between networks and cable companies. And there's only one college entity to acquire right now that can provide the kind of inventory these corporations are looking for.
Bottom line: After being screwed over by its television rights packages for two decades, the Pac-12 appears to be in the perfect position to maximize its revenue. Wilner had another piece recently in which an industry expert pegged the value of the Pac-12 at approximately $220 million annually. Today's news would seem to legitimize that.
WSU is set up for the kind of windfall it has never had. As Brian pointed out last night, Bill Moos is working ahead of the game to position the athletic department to take advantage of what's coming down the pike -- both in terms of athletic and financial success.
It's an exciting time to be a Coug.