It wasn't enough to completely dispense with all of our worries, but when the ACC's new deal with ESPN was announced, it did provide some comfort. After all, the league's institutions were reportedly set to receive an additional $4 million per year over the previous contract. The details point to a situation far less advantageous, which is saying something since even a $4 million raise puts the league's members well behind the rest of the major conferences.
The first shock to the system hit Wednesday, when the ACC came to terms with ESPN on a 15-year, $3.6 billion agreement that sure sounded good in the press release. Each school was supposedly getting an additional $4 million a year. The average would be $17.1 million annually. Not bad, it seemed.
The reality was bad, however. The initial bump in television revenue is actually just over $1 million a year, sources said, and a total in the $12 million range next season. The deal is back loaded so the bigger money comes in escalator provisions that, considering how broadcast rights keep growing, probably will be below market by the time any sizeable gains are realized.
That additional $4 million per school, per year? That won't come until 2021, nine years in, sources said.
2021! If you were wondering about the extent to which college football drives the money in these deals, I'd say that 's a pretty definitive answer. The ACC added a couple of basketball programs that have been outstanding over the last 10 years that just so happened to be attached to mediocre football programs. The move provided little leverage, which is clear enough given the escalators and the whole third-tier rights issue.
So was it ever worth it in the first place? From a bottom line perspective, more money is always good. But if you're a football school in this league, it appears to solidify several impressions: a) this is a basketball league and we don't fit; b) the people running this league do not possess the foresight necessary to survive in the long term; c) we're falling behind and the situation is not going to improve because [see points a and b].