The ACC just announced their new television deal, and it might well encourage the Pac-10 to remain the Pac-10.
The SportsBusiness Journal reports that the ACC just sealed a 12-year, $1.86 billion deal with ESPN for broadcast rights for football and basketball. The payout averages out to $155 million per season, over $12.9 million for each of their 12 schools. That is more than double what the ACC's old deal, which paid approximately $67 million, less than $6 million per school, was worth.
ACC basketball is obviously the more valuable part of the deal than football, even given that the ACC has a football championship game to market. Pac-10 basketball won't be nearly as valuable and marketable, even with any reasonable expansion.
But Pac-10 football is more marketable, even without a football championship game, which could still come about, even without expansion. And ACC football is a secondary product to the SEC in some of their markets.The size of the new deal comes as a surprise to everyone, and should be encouraging to the Pac-10. So should ESPN's willingness to bid, as well as Fox, even given the specter of the ACC possibly losing or having to replace some membership should the Big-10 and or the SEC conduct a raid, something not hanging over Pac-10 negotiations.
Clearly, having lost their bid for the NCAA men's basketball tournament left ESPN with cash to spend. How much they are looking at basketball vs. football isn't yet as clear, though.
The ACC deal still trails the lucrative Big Ten and SEC deals, but does substantially leap-frog the current Big XII deal, and without any additions from a possible partnership in a network, or secondary contract, for any left over inventory, or other sports.
Figures on television packages reveal just how much farther the Pac-10 trails the four bigger BCS conferences.
Pac-10 current deal: $43 million annually.
ACC old deal: $67 million annually.
ACC new deal: $155 million annually (football and basketball).
Big XII current deal: $73 million annually.
Big Ten current deal: $165 million annually.
SEC current deal: $205 million annually.
If the Pac-10 were successful in obtaining a rules change to allow a football championship game without 12 members, something the locked in contracts should leave the rest of the conferences no reason to object to, the question becomes how much can Larry Scott leverage for a ten team league, and how much more would additional new members net?
At the moment, adding, say, Utah (Salt Lake City/Utah market) and Colorado (Denver) would only have to add $9 million per year to be "profitable". Even at a $100 million annual return, which suddenly seems very attainable, expansion would need to add $20 million per year at a minimum.
What the Big-10 does, and potentially does to the Big XII, still will substantially impact the options for the Pac-10, and others, but the ACC deal does make the no-expansion route, with more emphasis on marketing partnerships and secondary deals, look more viable.