Sports Business

ACC Football: Conference Increases Money but Not Position with New ESPN TV Deal

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 03:  Center Andrew Miller #74, guard Michael Via #67, and tackle Blake DeChristopher #62 of the Virginia Tech Hokies prepare for the snap during the ACC Championship game against the Clemson Tigers at Bank of America Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterMay 9, 2012

Entering the 2011 season, the ACC sat behind the Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 and SEC with respect to television revenue. Now, the ACC has increased its revenue by $5 million per school each year to a respectable $17 million*. As John Ourand from the SportsBusiness Journal reports via Twitter:

Sources: ESPN's new ACC deal comes out to 15 years for $3.6 billion. That comes out to a whopping $17M per school.

— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) May 9, 2012

*The league office receives a share, which means the number is closer to $16 million per, not $17 million.

The league has elevated its cash flow in a substantial way. However, "whopping" is not the word that I'd use in describing this new television deal. Nice. Better. Helps. Closer.

The Big 12 is filling up its pockets to the tune of $20 million per team per year. The Pac-12 is enjoying robust gains of $21 million per team annually. The Big Ten is sitting at around the $20 million mark per school each season.

Which leads us to the SEC. The league is sitting at $17 million per season right now, so the ACC just about caught up to the SEC. Well, sort of.

The SEC is preparing to sit down at the negotiation table for its new deal, which will take into account the addition of Texas A&M and Mizzou. Oh, plus that little streak of national championships and having a myriad of perennially-ranked teams among the nation's best.

The SEC's number won't sit at $17 million for much longer, as commissioner Mike Slive looks to, again, top the nation.

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 24:  Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The exclusive, multi-platform deal that the ACC has agreed to does help close the gap. Instead of lagging far behind its peers, the conference has made up ground. The league's position does not truly change in terms of being nestled in fifth place, but the conference does help its member institutions' pockets quite a bit.

This will help a school like Maryland that is in dire straits financially. It will help schools pay their coaches a little more, upgrade some facilities and put some money in the coffers.

The deal, coupled with the exit fee, will also make schools at least think twice about bolting for another conference.

An interesting note here is that the deal is for first-, second- and third-tier rights. That means ESPN is the exclusive owner of all ACC football games. Unlike the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12, who have their number bolstered by second-tier rights deals, the ACC has all of its eggs in one basket.

For ESPN, it is a solid inventory play to make sure that it has content for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3, or Watch ESPN, their online property. No local deals for ACC schools' lowest tier of games, and that is another lost revenue stream.

All in all, the deal is good. But, it is not great.

It doesn't reposition the league in the way the Pac-12's remarkable deal did a season ago, but it does offer relief to the conference members. For now, the gap is smaller. It isn't closed entirely, but the ACC has pulled itself closer to the rest of big-time college football.

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