We've entered a brave new world in college athletics. News that Texas struck its own television network deal with ESPN worth up to $300 million signaled as much.
In light of that agreement, one industry leader who helps universities assess the worth of their marketing and media rights is skeptical the Big 12 Conference, in its current form, will survive another five years.
“I hate to be negative, but it's going to be really hard to have a marriage in a conference with the advantages Texas has,” says A.J. Maestas, president of Navigate Marketing, which works with the NFL, ESPN and several colleges like Ohio State. “It's going to be really hard for the K-States and Iowa States of the world to be competitive.”
Think of it as a battle of inequity. The Nav'i firing spears at the Sky People's gunships. Sooner or later, the Big 12's members will retreat to fairer playing fields.
Yet assuming the Big 12 crumbles, Oklahoma's prognosis is sunny, Maestas says, thanks to the school's capability for, and progress on, its own television network.
But the benefits are far greater than money.
Texas claims it will make a staggering $15 million a year off its ESPN deal (though a few million less at the outset as UT attempts to build its network from the ground up).
“Oklahoma would be fortunate to get half of that, and a third is probably more reasonable. That's not a knock on Oklahoma's fan base, that's just the economic reality of the population base,” said Maestas, adding that even those financial returns wouldn't come the first few years.
“What does $5 million do nowadays in college sports? Is it an advantage? Yes. Is it a massive advantage? No.”