Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review
Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)
PULLMAN - Even as the Pac-12 wins Rose Bowls, sends teams to the College Football Playoffs and has three teams in the Top 10 of the college basketball rankings, its TV revenues lag far behind its competitor conferences.
The Pac-12 Network, which was supposed to be netting member schools upward of $5 million per year by now, distributed just around $1.5 million per school, according to a report by Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News.
While the low figure was initially a shock to Pac-12 athletic departments, Washington State University athletic director Bill Moos told The Spokesman-Review that it is no longer a surprise and that WSU assumes a similar annual number when determining its annual budget.
Unlike the other major conferences, the Pac-12 Network and its six regional channels are entirely owned by the conference.
Moos said that he would prefer not to consider selling a stake in the network to a TV partner such as ESPN or Fox, which would net the conference a one-time payout.
A partner would also ease some of the costs associated with the network and give the conference leverage in its five-year battle with DirecTV, which still does not carry the Pac-12 Network and is the reason revenues have not grown. DirecTV has more than 22 million subscribers.
"I'm in favor of staying the course so we can dictate how the network operates - the number of live events, the various shows are outstanding and I would hate to have to sacrifice that," Moos said. "I would like to see us stay the course and see if we can work through this. I still have a lot of faith in the people running the conference and the network, and ultimately it will improve financially."
Meanwhile, the SEC Network pays Southeastern Conference member schools about $7.5 million per year. The Big Ten Network was paying that conference's schools as much as $10 million annually in 2011, Moos said.
Only a handful of the athletic directors and school presidents who were around when the conference decided to create the network are still at their schools.
"We've got a lot of people representing their institutions that never knew this conference before we had the $3 billion ESPN/Fox deal and the Pac-12 Network," Moos said. "I've been around long enough to know there is a lot of improvement in regards to revenue streams due to television negotiations."
Schools such as Washington and Washington State, both of which have athletic departments that are losing money, feel that discrepancy especially hard. Empowered by successive successful years on the football field as well as record-setting season ticket sales, WSU will raise donor rates to buy football tickets as part of a broader plan to achieve athletic department solvency by 2019.
"We're still behind our peers in regards to what our value is in our donor seating sections. It was time to address that," Moos said. "We're in our second consecutive year of seven home games and we're not in Seattle anymore. The stadium improvements have been incredible. I really think we put on a fabulous show."
Most fans who sit on the north side of Martin Stadium will pay about $50 more per seat than they did in 2016. Fans who have club seats may be paying between $150 and $300 more per seat.
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