There may be a million problems in college football — like joining the 21st century when it comes to the NIL issue — but, for the SEC, money in a new TV deal won’t one of them.
First reported by the Sports Business Daily, CBS has pulled out of negotiations with the SEC on a new television deal. According to the SBD, CBS, whose current contract with the conference runs through the 2023 season, had bid in the neighborhood of $300 million annually for the package. While nothing is finalized, it appears ESPN/Disney and its $330 million bid has won out.
According to al.com, “it could actually easily end up being $400 million or more when all is said and done.” That same website wrote that “FOX had also expressed serious interest in the rights if the SEC wanted a different two company arrangement.” The SBD reported that execs from FOX are expected to make an official bid presentation to the conference next month.
If the figure reported by the SBD is accurate, it would mean each member school in the SEC would receive in excess of $23 million annually. From this package alone. The number from al.com would be $28.5 million a year. Again, from this package alone.
For the fiscal year 2018, the average per-school payout for the SEC was $43.1 million. Just $4 million of that figure came from the current CBS deal.
CBS has broadcast SEC football since 1996. The network currently pays the conference $55 million annually, a pittance compared to the future numbers being tossed around.
“We made a strong and responsible bid,” CBS Sports said in a statement. “While we’ve had success with the SEC on CBS, we are instead choosing to aggressively focus on other important strategic priorities moving forward.”
The move away from CBS comes on new commissioner Greg Sankey‘s watch, a stark contrast to the strategy of his predecessor.
Letting CBS walk away from negotiations marks a significant departure in strategy from the SEC. The league willingly accepted less than it could have gotten the last time these rights were up in order to stay with CBS because then-commissioner Mike Slive liked the national platform the network gave the SEC. The $55 million per year was a steal for CBS but the partnership was certainly mutually beneficial as it helped the league build its brand and led to massive television ratings.