A couple thoughts on the ACC’s new deal with ESPN, which has fed the FSU-to-the-Big 12 talk (as deftly blogged by Jeff Schultz).
The background: The ACC last week completed a renegotiation of its deal with ESPN, jumping its per-school, per-year average from $13 million to $17 million.
1. The $17 million number is about what the ACC was expecting going into negotiations. The league had limited leverage, according to the Sports Business Journal. If the two sides couldn’t agree on a deal, the ACC couldn’t go to the open market. Both sides would have gone to an arbitrator. Further, as football teams go, Pitt and Syracuse presumably don’t make television executives do cartwheels.
It’s a nice bump, but it’s not exactly game-changing. Reported numbers vary, but it still leaves the ACC lagging its conference competition. The Pac-12’s contract averages out to $20.8 million per school, per year, and the league is creating its own network. (All numbers are per school, per year.) The Big Ten’s deal is worth $20.7 annually for its members. The SEC’s current deal brings in $17.1 million each year, but can re-do its deal. By adding Texas A&M, it will be worth significantly more, perhaps even $30 million. The Big 12 is reportedly on the verge of a new deal worth $20 million.
Further, the ACC’s deal escalates annually. Schools will receive $12.3 million the first year, a little more than $1 million than they would have in the previous deal. The annual check won’t match the $17 million average until 2021.
Presuming they want to stay competitive in both a financial and athletic sense, I have to think that ACC poobahs feel some pressure to keep making moves. I posted a blog in February about a presentation that Dan Radakovich made that noted the financial future of Tech and the ACC. The presentation postulated that a new deal could be worth $17 million.
“This is a good picture for us,” he said. “It shows that we are gathering significant resources from our relationship within the Atlantic Coast Conference, but it certainly says we have some continued work to do.”
2. There was a small detail in the new ESPN deal that could impact Tech’s annual game with Georgia. Part of the contract is three Friday games. Two of them will be hosted by Syracuse and Boston College. Tech could play in both of those games, although the Jackets will be at Syracuse and Boston College twice every seven years.
The third game is on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It’s a new property for ESPN, in the same vein as the Labor Day night game that Tech will play in this September against Virginia Tech.
The Thanksgiving Friday game could be any home game for an ACC school. I think it would go without saying that Tech-Georgia at Bobby Dodd Stadium would be a possibility for ESPN, if for no other reason than that it’s already scheduled every year for that weekend. It’s my understanding that Tech has in the past been willing to accommodate such a move, at least on a one-game basis, but that ESPN is content keeping that game on Saturday.
But now that ESPN has a standing deal to televise a Thanksgiving Friday game – there was one ACC game that day last year, Boston College at Miami, on ABC, after four years when all of the ACC games that weekend were on Saturday – it would stand to reason Tech-Georgia may get a look.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog