With a current need of upgrades to the Kentucky football facilities, and apparently baseball too, we’ve been talking a lot around here lately about creative ways to add additional streams of revenue. David Williams spoke with Matt on the radio show about bonding issues for Commonwealth Stadium improvements, and KSR College’s Jonathan Schuette even proposed the idea of recruiting an elite Chinese basketball player, the caliber of a Yao Ming, which would create opportunities for a massive Chinese TV deal, dramatically increase merchandise sales, and globalize the UK brand. The SEC has been coming up with their own ideas as well, such as the recent creation of an SEC/Big 12 “Champions Bowl”, which would primarily keep all revenue shared within the two conferences instead of amongst all 6 BCS leagues, Notre Dame, and others. The league is now working on yet another new source of revenue for its 14 schools: a new cable TV channel.
Four years ago, the SEC worked out a massive 15-year deal with ESPN and CBS, thought to be groundbreaking at the time, which paid out an average of $150 million a year. With the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri to the league, however, a clause in the contract allows the SEC to go back to the negotiation table and improve the deal even more. Now, part of the discussion between the SEC and ESPN is of a new cable channel, similar to the Big 10 Network, in which ESPN would be a partner. CBS executives, on the other hand, maintain that the value of the league is the 12 previous members, not Missouri and Texas A&M. CBS says they will cover the same amount of games and should not have to pay more for the rights of SEC broadcasts because of the addition of two schools. Whether or not the SEC is able to earn any additional revenue from CBS is yet to be seen, but it’s likely that they will get a better deal from ESPN, considering the ACC just did after adding Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
If the SEC were to create its own cable channel, the Sporting News says there are several different paths in doing so:
There are several different paths the SEC could take on a channel. It could follow the Big Ten model, where the conference is a 49 percent owner of Big Ten Network with Fox and shares in its revenue. Or it could go the Pac-12 route, which owns all of its regional networks. Texas, on the other hand, sold its rights to ESPN for a fee and ESPN owns all of the Longhorn Network
As a UK fan and KSTV viewer, the path that would be most intriguing to me would be the Pac 12 model. The newly formed Pac 12 Network will launch in August and will be grouped into six regional networks as well as one national network. The Pac 12 grouped their networks into the following regions: Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Southern California, Arizona, and Mountain. If the SEC were to follow a similar model, one scenario would be to create regional networks featuring the North (Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Missouri), East Coast (Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina), South Central (Alabama schools and Mississippi schools) and West (LSU, Arkansas, and Texas A&M). If there would be a regional SEC network featuring local Kentucky sports coverage, imagine the possibilities there could be for expanding KSTV and other UK related programming, such as coaches shows (which I don’t even always have access to in Northern Kentucky).
Is it possible, if such a regional SEC network were to be created with local programming, that a show such as KSTV could expand its viewing area outside of the state’s borders? This could be a win-win for not only the Universities that would profit from an SEC cable channel(s), but also to out-of-state fans who could now have access to UK and other SEC television programming 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Big Blue Nation would be in heaven with such a network, and hopefully the UK administration could use the extra revenue to improve Commonwealth Stadium and fund other much needed upgrades.
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