The offseason of UCF athletic director Danny White continues.
No, this isn’t another article about the Knights’ being national champions or releasing marketing studies or anything, even, to do with the upcoming season. No, this has to do with his conference’s upcoming television deal. The AAC’s rights expire after the 2019-20 season as is typically the case with such deals, negotiations for what happens starting in 2020 are going to commence in the coming months.
Per The Athletic’s Chris Vannini, those current deals with ESPN and CBS pay the league around $21 million a year and many around conference are expecting a big jump soon in the payouts.
“I don’t know how the first five years of our conference could have gone any better, with across-the-board success, particularly in football,” White said. “Whether you look at television ratings, competitive success, New Year’s Day bowl wins, we’ve way outperformed.
“I think our current deal is way undervalued, and everybody understands that. We’re all really confident we’ll get a much more significant television deal that puts us on par with where we should be, with the Power 6 conferences.”
While the AAC and those in the league continue to push that they are on par with the other Power Five conferences, that simply isn’t the case when you look at everything from actual NCAA governance to the cold hard cash each league receives. Even the much discussed Pac-12 Networks is contributing more to the conference’s schools than the $21 million the AAC receives and the league itself falls far short of its peers when it comes to total revenue. In 2016-17 alone, AAC revenue dropped below $75 million compared to over $500 million for the Pac-12, SEC and Big Ten each. Even in the Big 12, Texas alone takes in nearly as much TV revenue from the Longhorn Network (roughly $15 million a year) as the entire AAC does.
Given that the original deals were signed in 2013 with ESPN and CBS back when realignment was going crazy, White is absolutely correct in his assessment that the current deal is a little undervalued and a solid increase is in the cards for the league in the not-to-distant future. But as far as that winding up coming close to what the Power Five are bringing in? It seems like a stretch to say the least.