We're not even a month into the revamped (and improved) Pac-10 Conference and already TV networks are starting to circle the waters for what will surely be a dog fight for the next television contract beginning in 2012. After commissioner Larry Scott went all in to attempt to form the nation's first super conference and came up short, instead accepting the memberships of Colorado and Utah, many thought that his chances of scoring a vastly improved contract had taken a major hit. However, reports are already surfacing that suggest the Pac-10 will come out of the upcoming negotiations just fine.
Despite its recent setbacks, I'm convinced the Pac-10's future is bright based solely on a media landscape that should more than double its current take of around $53 million per year and see the launch of a full-fledged channel in the next couple of years.
In fact, the bidding war over the Pac-10's TV rights already is developing, leading some industry executives to predict that the conference's windfall could hit ACC-type numbers. In May, ESPN agreed to pay $1.86 billion over 12 years for the ACC's rights. That deal hasn't been finalized.
In case you are wondering, the current ACC deal would pay out roughly $13 million a year to each member institution, significantly more than the eight or so million that the Colorado Buffaloes are receiving under their current Big 12 deal. For an athletic department that desperately needs an infusion of cash, this has to bring smile to Athletic Director Mike Bohn's face. Combine that with increased ticket sales, donations due to the new conference affiliation, and the $10-12 million that a championship game would bring in and all of a sudden the future for CU is looking brighter and brighter, and it couldn't come at a better time.
I see the Pac-10 as a sleeping giant. Over the past decade, it has been one of the most underutilized brands in the sports industry. It has the worst TV deals of any major college conference.
Scott is in a no-lose situation; he has nowhere to go but up. Thanks to some of his bold moves, the conference stands on the cusp of bringing in more media dollars than the Pac-10 has ever seen.