I will admit it, I am not the biggest fan of Dan Beebe, the Commissioner on the Big 12 conference. With the conference losing two schools this year (Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-10), I feel it may only be a matter of time till the conference has to go through some more changes. This could potentially be realignment, adding new teams, or even breaking, and maybe forming part of a “super-conference” with another school.
Mr. Beebe, has been the toast of the Big 12 these past two weeks as the Big 12 signed a new media deal, worth $90 million a year for second-tier rights. It is a big deal, as it means more revenue for the conference and its member schools who could all use some extra money. However, the money, as with all shared revenue in the Big 12 is not split equally. Most schools will get $7 million on average, with the big schools like Texas (who I mentioned in a previous post as having their own new TV deal) getting a large share (Texas is reported to get about $12.5 million a year from the new deal). So with this influx of revenue, why might it not be big enough?
The Big 12 is essentially in competition with the Big Ten, Southeast Conference (SEC) and the Pac-10 (or is it Pac-12 now?) for media rights dollars, and the real big winners have been the Big Ten and SEC. The Big Ten, the only conference with their own channel brings in about $220 million in media revenue each year. That is about $20 million in media revenue per school in the Big Ten which splits its revenue evenly. The SEC was not far behind, with the power of their football television deal with CBS driving them up to around $210 million last year.
Looking at the numbers the Big 12 does seem to be doing better than the Pac-10/12 but is really chasing the Big Ten and SEC. With the conference having gone through a scare with teams leaving, and having the power of Texas pretty much holding the league together during all the realignment talks, this new revenue may not be enough to keep the Big 12 together. Furthermore, some have thought that this new Big 12 deal got done partly because the Big Ten has been in talks with ABC and ESPN about furthering their media deal between the Big Ten Network, that could lead to even more revenue for the Big Ten member institutions (including former Big 12 member Nebraska).
While, the new deal is great for the Big 12, it is probably an important move in trying to keep the conference together. With Texas’ pulling power, I’m sure many conferences would be happy to try and make deals to bring them in, and the Big 12 providing extra revenue for Texas (and all other schools as well) may just help keep the conference together.
For now. College sports is in an arms race in regards to revenue, and the schools with popularity and large revenue streams are sure to be continuously targeted to join other conferences. Maybe someday we will really see the Super Conferences, the question is, will the Big 12 be one of them?