If a Big 12 member school wants to keep up these days, then your institution had better be researching the possibilities of a campus network. Texas and ESPN launched Longhorn Network last summer amid the riches of a $300 million contract and 17 people capable of viewing it. Oklahoma and Fox Sports agreed on a deal that assures the Sooners one thousand hours of programming beginning this fall. Unlike the Longhorns, Oklahoma doesn’t need to find distributors or fill the content requirements of a 24-7-365 station. While that means less money, it also offers a very attractive solution for any athletic department hoping to cash in on their Tier 3 television rights.
Enter Texas Tech.
Red Raiders athletic director Kirby Hocutt spoke with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and confirmed their ongoing negotiations and preparations to create their own psuedo-network, possibly as soon as the fall:
A-J: What are the odds of having something in place by fall?
Hocutt: I believe very good. I remain optimistic. There are certain elements that have got to be worked through, which I’m not at liberty to go into detail on at this time. It would be our goal to broadly distribute the content that we’re able to beginning with the next academic year. I’m optimistic.
And on the topic of stand alone network (Texas) or using an existing channel for an agreed upon timeframe (Oklahoma), Hocutt said the following:
At the current time, it looks like the most feasible option and approach for us would be to secure ‘x’ number of block hours over the course of a given year that we could take our one football game, five or six basketball games, five or six baseball games … (lists numerous other sports) … to distribute within this certain block of hours.
In the continual saga of college football’s playoff/television hoopla, school-owned rights are quickly becoming significant. Pac 12 and Big Ten contracts require member campuses to fold their Tier 3 or local television rights into the conference. SEC and Big 12 deals require no such thing.
Thus, if an athletic director like Hocutt can find a willing partner with low overhead, what’s the downside to increased exposure? Texas Tech might not earn $15 million annually but any income beyond their revenues from ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports allows for higher coaching salaries or refurbished weight rooms or stadium renovations, all vital components in the gridiron arms race.
It’s why if another round of conference realignment occurs and the Big 12 eyes the ACC or Big East, it can point to Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech as beneficiaries of Tier 3 rights.
There’s no deeper or effective temptation of a college executive than offering him and his school more money.
Isn’t amateurism grand?