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Pac-10/12 Signs New Network Agreement; Largest College Sports TV Contract

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According to Yahoo! Sports, the Seattle Times, Jon Wilner, and the New York Times, the Pac-10/12 has signed a new contract worth approximately $225-250 million per year with ESPN and Fox Networks for 12 years beginning 2012-2013, coming to a total of approximately $2.7-3.0 billion dollars to the conference coffers. Under the terms of Utah's inclusion, every school beginning the 2014-2015 school year stands to make approximately between $18.5 and $21 million per year, more than triple what the current Pac-10 schools make with Fox's $60 million deal. Between 2012 and 2014, however, since Utah's membership is a "tiered" based inclusion (the Utes only get 25% of their share in 2012, 50% in 2013, and 75% in 2014), each school's individual payment, including Colorado's, from the deal will be actually greater than $18.5 million (Yahoo! is reporting that full revenue sharing will kick in once the new contract is finalized and begun, but everyone from SLC has claimed since July that they are not privy to their full shares until 2015). Next season, though, with the current $60 million deal still in place, each school could theoretically make less than $6M considering that Colorado is entering the conference as a member with full rights. Additionally, since the deal is greater than $170 million per year, neither UCLA nor USC will receive a $2 million initial cut for giving up broadcast-based revenue sharing.

The Sports Business Journal reports that Fox and ESPN will share football and men's basketball games. This means that games will be found on any of the following networks:

  • Fox
  • FSN College Sports
  • FSN Regional
  • FX
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPNU
  • ABC

Bay Area residents and anyone that doesn't have a FSN Regional network should take note now: the deal doesn't include guaranteed games on networks that previously may have shown Pac-10 games, such as Comcast Sports Net and Roots Sports Network.

In addition, Olympic sports can be picked up by ESPNU, but a decision has not been made public as to how (or if) a new Pac-12 network will impact ESPNU's Olympic sports broadcasting. The rights for some football and basketball games, however, were not included in the deal, intimating that a Pac-12 network is a strong possibility and that games will be broadcast exclusively there. It is also intimated that since Comcast bid agressively (vis-a-vis Versus/NBC Sports) for the contract and lost that any new network will only be available on higher tier cable packages, so get ready to dish out to watch some games. On the bright side, the conference, unlike the Big Ten, will be the sole proprietor of any new Pac-12 network.

For football and basketball fanatics, Fox will continue to have both the championship game in football and the basketball tournament on their networks for 2011-2012. Beginning 2012, though, the networks will alternate championships and tournaments. In school years that begin in an even number (2012-2013, 2014-2015, etc.), Fox will broadcast the football championship game while ESPN will broadcast the basketball tournament (does this mean the end of chronically empty yet Fox-mandated Staples Center?). In odd years, ESPN (most likely ABC, as this is where the now defunct Big 12 championship was broadcast) will broadcast the football championship while Fox will get the basketball tournament.

The agreement will be the largest college sports contract in place today, eclipsing the ACC's $155 million deal signed earlier this year as well as the Big 12's $130 million, the SEC's $205 million and the Big Ten's $220 million.

So what do you think? Is the tradeoff of having to watch games on the Fox regional networks (and their, um, not-so-high quality broadcasts) worth the tradeoff of watching games on FX and Fox and ESPN/ABC and tripling the schools' revenue shares?