Lisa Love‘s comments to the media last week focused a laser beam on the real value of the new $3 billion contract the Pac-10 Conference just signed with ESPN and the Fox network.
“We’re pleased that our television partners recognized the power of the conference,” said Arizona State’s Vice President for Athletics. “Much is to be gained by broadening our exposure and therein introducing our Midwest and Eastern friends to the competitive depth of the Pac-12.”
Sure, she also mentioned how nice it will be to have a piece of that lucrative pie that will be divided among the 12 teams in next year’s expanded conference. Utah and Colorado joined just in time to enjoy the largesse, with both coming on board in July.
It’s estimated that each school in the conference will get roughly four times the revenue they now receive each year.
But the real boost to Arizona State, and the other schools in the West Coast conference, will get from the rights package is in the recruiting effort.
Football is probably the best example. Both Arizona State and Arizona have solid football programs, good coaches, state-of-the-art facilities, and great weather during the football months, when the schools in the Midwest and East are clearing snow off the playing field.
But the message too often got lost on recruits because neither the Sun Devils or Wildcats got much exposure east of the Pecos. The recruiters from the Pac-10 couldn’t tell those top prospects, the ones you really need to build a national contender, that their parents and friends would be able to watch them play every game on national television.
But now that will all change.
The new TV deal, which includes football and basketball, will enable mom and dad and the rest of the gang back home to find their college kids on network TV every week. If they’re not on ABC, they’ll be playing on ESPN, Fox, or the Pac-12 Network.
The way it is set up, Pac-12 Media Enterprises will own the Pac-12 Network and will be able to distribute all conference football and men’s basketball games not licensed to ESPN and Fox Sports.
It’s a 12-year deal that has been estimated to be worth $3 billion, or about $250 million per year. And that makes it more lucrative than the Big Ten Network, which had set the record of $220 million for a TV rights package.
But for Love and the ASU football and basketball programs, the bottom line isn’t oriented as much toward the money as it is the talent. The new TV deal will level the playing field with other recruiters across the country, at least in this one important area.
Let’s see what happens when the prospects in Buffalo in December get a chance to watch the Pac-12 games being played under the warm Arizona sun.
And need we mention the tanned cheerleaders?
(Photo: Courtesy ASU Athletics)