Sunday, July 11, 2010

Conference Bonanza -- Big Money Keeps Getting Bigger

The capitalist system is alive and well in college sports. Notre Dame set the early bar with its exclusive TV deal with NBC that pays about $30 million a year. Then the Big Ten came out swinging with its own network and after a year or so battle with cable systems is paying teams $23 million each. To say this has been a lifesaver for Indiana is an understatement.

Now comes the deal between the ACC and ESPN. It is long term and big money and while the numbers aren’t official, that doesn’t mean they aren’t true.

Reports indicate an agreement worth $1.86 billion over 12 years. ESPN will, for the first time, have rights to all of a conference’s content. This makes it, in effect, the ACC Network.

If we have figured out the math right, that’s basically $2 billion divided by 12 teams. That equals around $166 million per team. Divide that by 12 and that means each team gets about $14 million a year.

ESPN will get the rights to both North Carolina-Duke basketball games, plus a bunch of other ACC basketball games, plus a bunch of ACC football games (including the conference title game), as well as women’s basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse and softball.

The deal even has a clause to address if the ACC adds or loses a team. Remember, the ACC never got involved in expansion, although there were rumors that Georgia Tech, Florida State and Clemson might bolt for the SEC, and even one that Maryland was looking to join the Big Ten.

So what does all this mean for the Big Ten in general and Indiana in particular? It could mean more money for televised conference games not on the Big Ten Network when it comes time for the next contract negotiations. Even if it doesn’t, it shows how much potential money could be out there for a Big Ten football title game, which is expected to be held starting in 2011.

Capitalism is a wonderful thing.

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