If you think the Big 12 isn’t financially viable and that the conference is on the verge of collapse, I’ve got news for you. USA Today is reporting the conference pulled down over $313 million from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. And, as USA Today points out, it is the second straight year the conference has increased its revenue by more than $40 million and the Big 12 has nearly doubled its revenue since 2012. I don’t know about you, but that sure doesn’t feel like the Big 12 is about to collapse.
The revenue jump is good news, but only $8 million is reportedly from increased TV revenue. The majority of the bump is attributed to Oklahoma’s trip to the CFB playoff, and Oklahoma State’s trip to the Sugar Bowl. So, it might be hard to reach the same growth next year, but while the conference didn’t make the CFB Playoff, they are locked into the Sugar Bowl every year.
Each member of the conference was distributed $28.9 million, including TCU and West Virginia who received full shares for the first time since joining the conference.
Despite the big pay-day, the conference still lags behind the SEC. But honestly, who’s surprised by that? Overall, the Big 12 is expected to be fourth in revenue of the power five conferences — ahead of the Pac-12. So far though, only the SEC and Big 12 have reported their fiscal year numbers. However, all things are not equal.
Yes, the Big 12’s $313 million is a far cry from the SEC’s $584 million, but that’s not the full story. The SEC has 14 members, and distributed $40.4 million to each member. And yes again, $40 million is significantly more than the $29 million the Big 12 paid its members. However, bear with me, the SEC’s numbers include third tier media rights. So it is not an apples-to-apples comparison as the Big 12 is the only power five conference whose distribution does not include third tier rights.
When you account for the Big 12’s third tier rights, the gap between the SEC and Big 12 is significantly smaller. Texas makes around $15 million off of the Longhorn Network, which actually catapults them in front of all SEC members at roughly $44 million. Not everyone in the Big 12 has their own TV network though, and it’s hard to know exactly how much every school is making in third tier rights, but it is thought that OU brings around $8 million, while schools like West Virginia and Oklahoma State are thought to be around $6 million. That brings their totals to $37 million and $35 million, respectively. That’s still short of the SEC, but it should be very competitive with the Big Ten and ACC.
Long term, The gap will eventually widen between the SEC and Big 12 if things stay as they are. Especially, if the Big 12 continues to struggle to make the CFB Playoff. So it’s a good thing things are definitely not expected to stay as they are. The Big 12 is still in talks with its television partners stemming from last year’s agreement to not expand the conference and to ditch the pro rata clause in their contracts. And there is this little explored option floating around of live streaming content on social media networks. We are already seeing the NFL stream games on Twitter, and while we don’t know yet how the Big 12 can take advantage of this, we do know the Big 12 is the only power five conference that even has the option to, since it all goes back to still owning their third tier rights.