Without Oklahoma and Texas, the rest of the Big 12 would take a significant hit financially if they choose to move forward as a group, according to an analysis by The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel.
That hit — which is driven mainly by television money — would be expected in a reconstituted Big 12 without the Longhorns and the Sooners, who officially petitioned the Southeastern Conference to join the conference on Tuesday. But Mandel’s article provides a window into the stark world the remainder of the Big 12 would enter if they move ahead together.
Mandel noted that the Big 12 reported $253 million in revenue on its 2019-20 tax return, with the bulk of that coming from their television contracts with ESPN and Fox. According to a sports media consultant Mandel spoke to for the article, Oklahoma and Texas provide about ’50 percent’ of the conference’s television value, which could lead to a potential 50 percent in revenue share for the rest of the league’s members in the future.
As one might also expect, OU and Texas have received the bulk of the premier opportunities for TV. Mandel’s analysis revealed that of the 38 games chosen by ESPN and Fox the past two years, 33 of them involved either OU or Texas. Plus, 27 of the 30 highest-rated Big 12 TV games have involved the Longhorns and Sooners.
The chasm between the audience share is stark, too. Mandel noted that both the Sooners and Longhorns drew, on average, more than 3 million viewers the past two seasons. The rest of the Big 12 averaged less than 1 million.
So, what does it all mean to the remaining eight teams? Right now, they currently enjoy about $38.5 million in revenue share from the Big 12 (this includes television and non-television revenue). Mandel calculated that TV money accounts for about $24 million of that revenue. If OU and Texas really account for half of the league’s value, then Mandel estimates that each team’s revenue share would drop to $26.5 million, assuming all other revenue remains the same, a prospect that seems awfully unlikely.
It’s a problematic proposition for the rest of the Big 12, because the most likely conference they would look to for new members — the American Athletic Conference — has a long-term contract with ESPN. But AAC members only received less than $8 million in revenue share.
What does it mean? It means the remainder of the Big 12 will likely continue to test the waters with other Power 5 conferences in an effort to find a landing spot that will help replicate as much of their current revenue share as possible.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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