3 min read

There's More to Conference Revenue than TV Deals

The talk of the town is all about TV money:

Big Ten will get $100mm.

Pac-12 lost 40% of its value and nobody wants it.

Notre Dame only makes X and the Big Ten will may Y more.

TV deals are definitely a large part of the revenue pie, but they're not all of it.

In a report earlier this year in the Athletic, they broke down that the ACC distributed $578mm to each of the 15 schools for the 2020-2021 school year - it's 15 because that was the COVID year when Notre Dame played as a conference member.

That's a lot of scratch, ~$38.5 distributed out per team. That's the number that gets tossed around for buyouts and grants of rights, etc. But under the surface, $397mm of that came from TV - 70% of the total.

Here's an article from On3 looking at TV specific revenue. Big 12 $20mm. Pac-12 $21mm. Big Ten $31.4mm.

When people say the Big Ten will be worth $100mm - it's on the whole. USC and UCLA didn't add $35mm a piece out of thin air to the TV deal. If they did, that would be saying them alone would be adding ~4x the entire Pac-12  TV deal (which having looked at the number of fans in those stands, might be accurate?).

Other Sources

There's a mess of other sources that factor into the equation.

Bowls and CFP

Bowl games pay out a few million bucks for P5 matchups.

Every P5 gets a base $66mm from the CFP with an additional $6mm for CFP berths and $4mm for NY6 bids. Tacked in there also is $300k for every school that meets certain academic requirements. If you make it to a semifinal you also get $2.5mm or so for your team's travel expenses.

Oh, and Notre dame gets $3.5mm on their own as a base and if they make NY6/CFP they don't have to split the extra money. But they get a cut of the ACC's extra.

Here's the payouts from 2018 when the Irish made the CFP.

A whopping $11.2mm. The SEC and Big 10 schools got $5.9mm and $4.5mm respectively.

March Madness

If you make an NCAA appearance, you get ~$330k/yr for the next 6 years paid to your conference for every game you play in. For the Big 12 which has Baylor and Kansas as the two most recent champs and runner up Texas Tech in the 2019 tournament (RIP BYU's COVID Cinderella Dreams), those 3 schools played in 6 games to reach the championship. That nets the Big 12 about $2mm a year for the next 6 years for each of them.

In the 2022 tournament, the Big 12 had 6 bids vs the Pac-12's 3. Big 12 teams played in 15 games pocketing $5mm/yr * 6 for the league. $400k each for 12 schools form just 1 year and shabby.

Arizona, UCLA and USC bagged 7 games, a $2.7mm difference for each of the next 6 years.

That adds up. If you're the #1 basketball league in the country and can push for 8 bids a year with deep tourney runs and do it consistently, the money can pile up.

Weird other stuff

League's sell merchandise. There's gate revenue from conference basketball tournaments and football championship games. There's all the shirts they sell at those too.

There's partnerships like Old Trapper being the official jerky of the Big 12 and all the corporate sponsorships that are extra on top of the strict TV money. And Gatorade, All State, Dr Pepper, Sprouts, Phillips, etc. There's a lot of corporate sponsors out there.

Notre Dame

So where does this all lead for the Irish?

Probably still to the Big Ten. Someday. But I don't think that's today. You can't look at their $15mm from NBC and $12mm from the ACC and say "Wow! only $27 compared to $100 the Big Ten is gonna get!"

Because that's not comparing apples to oranges. The Irish will get a bump from NBC, and just like their TV deal now is within striking distance, I have a feeling they'll land in striking distance again.

Will the difference be enough that they say "oh shoot we gotta hurry now is our chance!"

No. They're Notre Dame. They can do what they want. Unless the playoff fundamentally changes it's structure, they don't see a need to change. Making the playoff once every few years bridges any gaps.

And going to the Big Ten may have negative financial impact on donations to the school if some donors do not like abandoning their Independent identity and/or are still not over the anti-Catholic sentiment that kept them out of the league originally.

If you look at the Sportico Collegiate Finances Database, you can see what a lot of different schools brought in. It gets trickier with private schools like the Irish, but I can promise you that Notre Dame doesn't focus solely on the TV numbers the the realignment frenzy is tuning into - Jack Swarbrick sees the big picture and as we look at where it makes sense to land for your other non-BYU favorite teams, you should too.