SBD/November 20, 2012/Colleges

Could Big Ten Become Richest Conference Based On TV Revenue?

The Big Ten's addition of Maryland and Rutgers “all but affirms the league will be the richest in existence” when the conference’s contract with ESPN runs out in ‘16, according to Dennis Dodd of CBSSPORTS.com. A “conservative estimate” has Big Ten schools “bringing more than $30 million per year in athletic revenue,” at the least. Adding some portion of the N.Y. and DC markets “cannot be seen as a bad thing,” as for now, conference realignment is “all about BTN.” Even with an “incremental increase in subscription fees -- what cable companies pay per month to broadcast a channel -- expansion could produce a windfall.” A source said, "By default, will they make more money? Yes, but will it be significantly more? It's ego. It's all ego" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/19). Chicago-based Navigate Research Analytics Dir Jeff Nelson in an e-mail wrote that increased subscriber fees from Maryland’s and Rutgers' metro markets “could increase each school’s payout from the league’s Big Ten Network to $10 million a year.” USA TODAY’s Gary Mihoces notes the “per-school payout from TV revenue could rise to as much as 35 million” with the league “set to negotiate its first-tier rights in 2017” (USA TODAY, 11/20). Ohio State AD Gene Smith said, "You can't skirt the fact that financially it assists us." Smith said that new cash flow “should be directed back at the university.” In Cleveland, Doug Lesmerises notes Ohio State “is a rarity, a healthy, self-sufficient athletic department, so Smith said he'd like to help the university as a whole by, for instance, providing money for more scholarships, not just athletic scholarships” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/20).

A MOVE AWAY FROM THE PAST: In Detroit, Jeff Seidel writes under the header, “Maryland, Rutgers Joining Big Ten Just Doesn’t Feel Right.” History and tradition “slipped away” yesterday with the announced moves of Maryland and Rutgers. Seidel: “Maryland and Rutgers in the Big Ten? Does that even sound right? … You know why they did it: It’s about money. It’s about making super conferences. It’s about television, spreading the Big Ten Network into the Beltway and the Big Apple.” It might “stink from a pure tradition point of view,” but it also “makes a lot of sense to add some schools” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/20). But the N.Y. Daily News' Bob Raissman said, "In some respects, in some people’s minds, this is like a watering-down of the Big Ten” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 11/19).
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