Despite rumors of the Big 12’s imminent demise over the last five years, the conference keeps hauling in record profits, and now we know how the conference stacks up to the rest of the Power 5.
Back in April, it was reported that the Big 12 hauled in $313 million in revenue over the previous fiscal year, up $40 million from the year before. For Big 12 members, that meant a payout of $28.9 million per school.
At the time, the only other conference to report their year-end numbers was the SEC, and to the surprise of no one, the Big 12 lagged behind. However, after third tier media rights are considered, the Big 12 wasn’t nearly as far behind as naysayers would have you believe. The SEC payed out $40.4 per member, but the Big 12 is the only Power 5 Conference whose member distribution does not include third tier media rights payed to the school, since schools in the Big 12 retain those rights. For Texas, that’s an additional $15 million and it catapults them to the very top. For OU, it’s an additional $8-$9 million, and for schools like Baylor, TCU, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, it is an additional $6-$8 million.
There is also more bad news for those anticipating the Big 12’s collapse. The ACC and Pac-12 have released their numbers, and they fall well short of the “doomed” conference in the mid-west.
The Pac-12 reportedly payed out $28.7 million to each member, which again, includes third tier media rights. To put it into perspective, the Pac-12, with its TV network, paid out less to its members that the Big 12, that does not have a conference network. And, Big 12 members pull in several more million in third tier revenue. It doesn’t look like it will be much better next year either, as The Mercury News is reporting the conference expects to payout just $29.5 million per member next year.
For the ACC, the news is even worse. The Atlantic Coast Conference is one of the hottest conferences in college football after Clemson won the 2017 National Title, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at their pocketbook. It was reported last week that the ACC paid out just $23.8 million per member the previous fiscal year, which is a decline from the year before. The ACC will likely see those numbers jump next year as CFB Playoff money rolls in and the ACC Network gets off the ground, but still, that’s a lot of ground to make up. Not to mention, a conference network is no guarantee of a big pay day, just look at the state of the Pac-12.
With each passing year, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Big 12 is not as poorly positioned as once thought. The Big 12 still lags behind the SEC and Big Ten, but deals like the one Conference USA just made with Twitter, show the Big 12’s potential to strike a major streaming deal. The Big 12 is the only Power 5 Conference currently positioned to make such a deal, while the other conference’s third tier rights are locked up in the rapidly aging and largely defunct TV network model.