Pac-12 Networks revenue not until Years 3-4?

WHEN BILL MOOS mentioned it recently on his radio show, it was so subtle it could have easily been missed. But there it was. While the Cougs and others in the Pac-12 conference figure to have enjoyed record breaking revenues for the 2012-13 year, the Pac-12 Networks isn't contributing to those unprecedented distribution levels to member schools.

When the Pac-12 Networks was announced, the message was consistent – this is going to be worth millions and millions to the member schools. Some industry analysts said at the time it could be worth more than $8 million per school annually. Others said after four years, that figure could climb to $12-15 million each.

Those projections appear to have been overly optimistic.

"They're (the Pac-12 Networks) not losing money, and it's a big operation. We're hopeful that within Year 3 or 4 that we'll start to see some revenues from it. And when we do, it could be fairly sizable," said Bill Moos.

That's worth repeating. So not until after next year, or perhaps 2015-16, will member schools start to see revenues from the Pac-12 Networks. Hopefully.

To be fair, at the time the Pac-12 Networks was announced, others said the first 2-3 years or so could actually result in losses – but at the same time once those were over with, they estimated a $10 million payout per school thereafter each year. And Moos looks to be firmly in this camp, though he didn't talk dollar figures.

DirecTV is obviously a big drag on potential distributions from the Pac-12 Networks but it wouldn't completely bridge the gap, their inclusion to the Pac-12 Networks would bring in an estimated $3-5 million per school.

It's also important to not lose sight of the big picture here: Washington State and others saw a humongous chunk of change from the ESPN & FOX Sports deal, plus the other pieces that make up the league's revenue.

The conference's 12-year, $3-billion ESPN/Fox deal, along with bowl game payouts, NCAA basketball championship money, etc., means that the Cougs received an estimated $21 million for 2012-13, according to a projection put together by Jon Wilner of the Mercury News earlier this summer. We probably won't know for sure the exact figure WSU has already received until next spring, when the 2012-13 revenues are made available through public tax documents. The Pac-12 to this point has chosen not to announce its distributions to its members schools.

But a member payout of $21 million for 2012-13, if that's what it turned out to be, is substantial and then some. Just a couple years ago, the Pac-12 payout was a little under $6 million.

It's just that the Pac-12 Networks won't add to that bottom line. Not yet, anyway.

If it had, the Pac-12 might have been the leader in 2012-13, surpassing the Big Ten.

"We were certainly hopeful at launch which was a year ago August that we'd have all the providers in place and that we could start seeing some distribution to the member institutions and that has not happened. There was a small profit but (that) has not been distributed and we're trying to get it back in -- into (the) Pac-12 Networks to continue for it to grow," said Moos.

Moos also noted that unlike the Big Ten Network (as well as the coming SEC Network), the Pac-12 Networks is fully owned by the schools and its conference. (Fox owns 49 percent of the Big Ten Network. ESPN will own the SEC Network, reportedly sharing profits 50-50 with the conference.)

"When we do start to turn that corner, it will be 100 percent of our earnings (that) will be distributed to the 12 schools," said Moos.

  • For 2012-13, the SEC reportedly sent out $20.7 million out per school, the Big12 was at $22 million per core member school, and the Big Ten reportedly distributed $25.4 million to its core member schools. (Some schools, such as Nebraska, TCU, West Virginia, as well as Rutgers and Maryland down the road, will not receive full revenue shares for varying periods after joining their new conference.)

  • Colorado for the first time in 2012-13 does receive a full share in the Pac-12, while Utah will continue receiving a partial share until the 2014-15 year. Utah still reportedly received an estimated $9.9 million in distributions from the Pac-12 in 2012-13. Prior to joining the Pac-12, Utah received appx. $1.2 million from MWC television revenues.

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