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Pac-12 TV revenues continue to disappoint

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The Pac-12 Networks sounded too good to be true when they launched... And that just might have been the case.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

At least $5 million per team, per year. That was the high end estimate for TV revenue distribution per Pac-12 team when the new TV deal was announced in 2012.

But as it turns out, those estimates were a bit off.

Jon Wilner of the Mercury News wrote about the Pac-12's TV revenue problem on Tuesday. The Networks distributed an estimated $1.5 million per school last season. The conference combines that number with the payout from the other parts of their TV deal including ESPN and Fox for the full distribution. When you compare that to the payouts in other top conferences, the numbers aren't pretty:

Fiscal year 2016 school distributions:

  • SEC: $40 million (confirmed)
  • Big Ten: $35 million (approximate)
  • Pac-12: $27 million (approximate)

That looks bad … that is bad … but it’s about to get much worse for the Pac-12. Remember: The Big Ten’s new Tier 1 deal begins in 2017-18, and it’s also a whopper, averaging $440 million per year. Which brings us to …

Fiscal year 2017-18 school distributions:

  • Big Ten: $45 million (estimate)
  • SEC: $43 million (estimate)
  • Pac-12: $31 million (estimate)

Blame it on Larry Scott. Blame it on the Networks. Blame it on DirecTV. It doesn't matter who's at fault, but it's a big problem for the Pac-12 conference. WSU AD Bill Moos spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle and agreed that the numbers are underwhelming. "We were hoping for $5 million to $6 million when we were launching," Moos said. " There was never a guarantee, but we ere optimistic because we owned it outright."

Moos does accept that the Networks have a lot of benefits, telling the Chronicle that they would have been "left in the dust" without money for new facilities that was provided by the upgraded TV contract. He added that half of the current conference AD's were hired following the launch of the networks. "The frustration is mainly from the ADs who came later."

So what can the networks do?

They can't renegotiate their rights deal with ESPN and Fox until their contract is close to ending in 2024.

They haven't been able to get carriage on DirecTV. The SF Chronicle says could be worth upwards up $3 million per team, but the network has been attempting to do that for years and has failed pretty publicly a couple of times.

One option they do have is selling a stake in the networks, but that's an option Moos told the Spokesman Review last year he would prefer not to do.

So, for now, the network seems more or less stuck, so WSU is turning to other methods of raising money. As we wrote last week, WSU is raising donor rates to help their athletic department get closer to making a profit.

For most everyone else on the north side, you'll be paying $50 more than you did last year for every seat.

The biggest price increase though comes in the club seats. For those sitting outside the 20s, you'll be paying $150 more per seat this year which is less of an increase than the folks below you or inside the 20s where it's $300 more per seat. Percentage wise, they're actually smaller increases than many of the seats on the deck below but money wise, certainly the largest.

Pac-12 Revenue

Pac-12 revenue lags SEC, Big Ten by whopping amount
It didn’t make major news in Pac-12 territory, and some fans might have missed it entirely. But late last week, crammed between National Signing Day and the Super Bowl, a certain conference in the southeastern quadrant released its financial information for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Some ADs grumble about Pac-12 Networks’ payouts, distribution - San Francisco Chronicle
Five years after its formation, the Pac-12 Conference’s extensive sports broadcasting network remains a work in progress — successful on some levels, but still dogged by nagging questions regarding profitability and reach.

Pac-12 Network revenues still far short of projections | The Spokesman-Review
Even as the Pac-12 wins Rose Bowls, sends teams to the College Football Playoffs and has three teams in the Top-10 of the college basketball rankings, its TV revenues lag far behind its competitor conferences.

Basketball

Cougars Take to the Road to Face Runnin' Utes Thursday - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
WSU is looking to snap a six-game losing streak to Utah and a 14-game losing streak at Utah.

Non-Revenue Sports

Cougar Swimming Hosts Utah For Final Home Dual Meet - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
The Washington State swim team hosts Utah on senior day in the final home dual meet of the season, Saturday, Feb. 11 at Gibb Pool

Women's Golf Set For Peg Barnard Invitational - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
The Cougars will return to the green, Feb. 11-12, to compete at Stanford.

WSU Rowing to Hold Summer Youth Camps - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
Washington State rowing will be hosting youth rowing camps at its Pullman athletic facilities and on the Snake River, beginning June, 2017.