In a world where we are constantly inundated with stories of loss and bankruptcy due to a recession that seems to take no mercy, we often forget that not everyone sees things the same way. McDonald’s executives would argue the economy has been a blessing for them and its thousands of franchisees. Sales are through the roof the past year as Americans scale back their spending on dining out.
It’s all about perspective.
We got plenty of that on Wednesday when commissioner Mike Slive addressed the media at its annual SEC Media Days gathering in Birmingham. In an era where other conferences are looking for additional revenue just to stay afloat, the SEC is awash in billions of dollars in new cash thanks to a television contract deal that will give conference members an advantage similar to what the New York Yankees have in baseball.
The money is mind boggling – not to mention the unprecedented exposure each SEC school will receive over the next 15 years because of the deal. Over the life of the contract the conference will receive more than $3 billion in revenue from CBS and ESPN. That averages out to more than $17 million a year for each conference member. It’s the equivalent of every member institution getting a BCS bowl payout annually until 2024.
Matt Hayes of The Sporting News puts it into perspective: “The ACC earned $75 million for its last television deal with ABC and ESPN. Vanderbilt, which hasn’t won an SEC Championship in the 70-plus year history of the league and played in a bowl game last year for the first time since the early 1980s – will make more than that in the first five years of the new SEC deal.”
Beginning this season, every SEC football game will be televised by eitherCBS or ESPN (including its partners). This deal will stay in effect each year for the length of the contract. Take that Notre Dame. During the life of the deal, ESPN and its partners will televise more than 5,500 SEC events. That averages out to 365 live events each year.
With the majority of league schools already landing top 25 recruiting classes yearly, the new contract promises to push the SEC even higher. If you are the Big Ten, Pac 10 or ACC, how do you compete against this juggernaut?
The big winners in the deal are likely to be your traditional mid and lower tier conference teams – Arkansas, Ole Miss, Miss State, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. This infusion of cash will lead to upgraded facilities and bigger recruiting budgets that will allow them to compete better with other programs around the South. Of course this means even more competition in the SEC which brings along its own set of problems, primarily in the game of recruiting. That’s a story for another time.
What will be interesting to watch in the coming years is how the on-air personalities at ESPN treat teams from the SEC. Will Kirk Herbstreit change his tune and now get in lock-step with the league that’s generating his paycheck? When there’s an argument over whether Auburn or Oklahoma should be ranked second, will Kirk and crew suddenly shift their allegiance to the SEC?
Who knows the answers to these questions. But it should be fun to watch. And with every football game televised, we will be doing a lot of watching.
I can hardly wait.