Putting the Conference Networks in Context

Via SportsDayNow, Chadd Scott had a terrific article yesterday where he put the idea  that the SEC Network is some sort of “cash cow” in a bit of perspective. Namely, that it’s really not a cash cow in comparison to the grand scheme of things and that the bang to hype ratio with conference networks is a bit out of whack.

When looking at revenue, it is the conference’s distribution and each program’s ticket sales and contributions that make up the majority of the revenue for each college athletic program, not the SEC Network. Think of conference networks as a nice cherry on top of your sundae, but not a huge scoop of ice cream:

Football ticket sales and contributions tied to football ticket sales at Georgia = $48 million

SEC conference distribution (less SEC Network) = $26 million

SEC Network = $5-6 million

Georgia lists total athletic department revenues at more than $117 million. The SEC Network accounts for about four-percent of that.

In comparison, we looked at the revenue and expense for Texas Tech last week and Texas Tech’s total revenues was $72,917,990 for 2013. Our problem is that we don’t know what part the football program was responsible for, but the biggest differences between Georgia and Texas Tech are the ticket sales and contributions, which is about $36 million for Texas Tech, while Georgia is about $12 million more.

We talked last week as well that 8 of the 10 Big 12 members received $25.5 million and the guess is that Texas Tech earned about $2-3 million with their deal with FOX.  At the end of the day, sure, that’s an additional few million that Georgia is receiving, but it’s not what makes the program.

The point of all of this is that the SEC Network and the Big Ten network are getting a lot of play, but in context, these network deals aren’t that big of a deal in terms of the income that they generate. It’s nice walking around money, but it’s not a huge part of the revenue deal in terms of the ink it is receiving (or internet chatter).

The biggest advantage, the one where consumers win, is the fact that you can find the coverage of your team on that channel, which is what this is all supposed to be about. Not the fact that it makes money. It’s the idea that I can go find an SEC baseball game any weekend for just about any team, but you can only watch Texas Tech baseball once every full moon.

One more note is that Scott wrote about how the ACC can catch up to the SEC, and in keeping with the theme, it isn’t creating a conference network, it’s just getting better at football.  That’s how you make up the difference with a program like Georgia, who is $12 million ahead of Texas Tech.  Be better at football and the money will flow.


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