dos Coogs on the AAC TV/Streaming Deal

Did the AAC make a good deal on the new TV contract?

Brad Towns (Former UH Athlete): I don’t think the deal was good or bad.  I think it was the best deal we were going to get.  I know that some are disappointed that it seems we didn’t “take it to the open market” but the reality is there is no “open market” when there is only one media partner interested.

CBSSports and NBC were not interested in jumping in and pay anything bigger. Amazon, Netflix, or any other streaming service isn’t going to enter the market by gobbling up the rights to stream AAC games.  So we are left “negotiating” with the only broadcast partner willing and able to do a deal.

Ryan Monceaux (Knows Former UH Athletes): I think the AAC presidents left a lot of meat on the bone here. First, why did the deal need to be 12 years? That’s an awfully long time to commit to a contract – especially if you think you’re being undervalued.

And I know the conference believes they are undervalued because American Athletic commissioner Mike Aresco has said it dozens of times.

“It’s hard to overstate how important this TV deal is for us. That doesn’t mean we’re going to get the kind of deal other Power Six conferences have, but we need to get into that range. It’s warranted, based on the ratings we get.”Mike Aresco

“The P6 campaign is not the end game. It’s the start. The end game would be to have a TV deal that puts us at least in range of the P5. It doesn’t have to be a deal like the Big 10 or the SEC. We understand we’re not the Big 10 or the SEC. We still think we’re much closer to them than the others.”Aresco

The $6.93 million a year is pretty light compared to the Pac-12 ($20.8 million a year plus any revenues from the Pac-12 Network) and the ACC (estimated around $21 million a year). They’re the two lowest-paid of the P5 conferences. And the deal is far, far closer to “the others” than the P5. 

Aresco over-promised and under-delivered. He constantly talked up the “P6” and how the league would get “into that range” yet he failed to get even 1/3 of what the Pac-12 receives.

The school presidents love Aresco because he got them more money and security as well as a deal they don’t ever have to think about again. How many of them will still be in this conference when the contract comes up again in 12 years? Probably none.

Towns: The big positive of the deal is we got more money than the last deal and we didn’t have to give away grant of rights.  Although $5 million more per school isn’t game changing it is a nice increase in revenue for a department that only makes $26 million in “generated revenue” – i.e. ticket sales, donations, and rights/licensing fees.

Not having to give away our TV rights means that we could theoretically leave the conference for greener pastures if the opportunity arises.

Monceaux: One of the pieces that won’t be felt til the deal goes into effect is just how many games will go to ESPN+. The streaming service will feature a “majority of basketball games and a significant number of the football games” going forward.

There are 48 conference football games and 216 conference basketball games each year. With a majority of hoops games on ESPN+, that’s over 100 games by itself. All-in, the league is probably looking at 125-150 of the 264 games in the two sports on the new paid streaming service.

In football, 139 of the 240 AAC conference games from 2014-2018 (58%) were broadcast on ABC or the ESPN family of networks. At least 65 more were on CBSSports. That’s 85% of conference games on television.  And it means that if more than 7 conference games a year are on ESPN+ then this is an overall loss of exposure.

The American will be the only “P6” league streaming most of their football and basketball games. Being on TV is how you get recognition and prove your value. With so much AAC content going streaming, that will be almost impossible to do.

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