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.