Big 12 revenue ‘still third’ among Power 5 conferences, but ‘not light years’ behind

IRVING, TX — When the Big 12 Conference announced a record revenue distribution of nearly $43 million per school on Friday, comparisons to the Southeastern Conference and the Big Ten Conference immediately emerged.

The Big 12 is still far behind these two titans – but not as far as everyone thought.

When data analytics firm Navigate released its 2022 conference revenue forecast in March, it had the Big 12 at $40.6 million, while the Big Ten was forecast at $57.2 million and the SEC at $54.3 million. The Pac-12 was projected at $34.4 million per school, while the ACC was $30.9 million.

“We’ve been third in cast,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, “and I think we’ll stay there for the foreseeable future. TV rights are only worth what anyone is willing to pay for them.

Bowlsby and Big 12 board chairman Lawrence Schovanec gave a press briefing on Friday to recap the league’s last three days and look ahead to a bright future.

Constant fluctuations in the number of subscriptions and digital options such as streaming or apps affect the ability to project accurately. Linear distribution — live TV or cable/satellite — continues to decline as services like Hulu and Amazon make inroads into the live sports market.

“There’s a lot of speculation about what the new Big Ten package will be like,” Bowlsby said. “The SEC package is pretty well prepared at this point once the new ESPN package goes into effect for this 2:30 Central Time window for football. So there are still unknowns. But they both distribute more than us, but we are not light years apart.

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“It is too early to predict whether the next rounds of negotiations will be much more or a little more or whether they will be flat. It’s going to be a matter of what the appetite is at that time. But the BIg ​​Ten and the SEC, through their networks, above all, is that they are doing well. The other side of that, however, is that all linear programming and subscriptions are down. The same goes for SEC Network and Big Ten Network subscribers and anyone else with a network. These numbers continue to decline. »

In the Big 12, those numbers are expected to drop further when Oklahoma and Texas leave for the SEC.

“Intuitively, you’re saying there are two cowbells left and they’re going to go up in value with them,” Bowlsby said. “We will also have more inventory thanks to 12 teams instead of 10. And we have added good quality and good markets with recruitment opportunities. So I am not ready to say that we are going to lose 50% of our value. I don’t think it will.”

That’s what Bowlsby told the Texas State Legislature last year after the OU-Texas announcement. With TV revenue at $28 million, he said the Sooners and Longhorns would take $14 million with them to the SEC. This figure was later changed to $5 million.

The bottom line is that it is difficult to project and impossible to know.

In 2018-19 — the last time the Big 12 held in-person Spring Meetings before this week’s three-day session at the Four Seasons Resort and Club — the Big 12 reported revenue of $388 million. dollars, which marked an increase of 13 consecutive years. . That number, however, fell to $377 million in 2019-20 as the pandemic canceled the NCAA basketball tournament and all spring sports. In 2020-21, the Big 12 reported just $345 million in total revenue.

So regardless of when Oklahoma and Texas ultimately leave for the SEC, things are looking up for the Big 12.

“We are in a very strong position today,” Schovanec said.