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Projections Make ACC Network More Profitable Than Pac 12

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The Athletic Coast Conference is scheduled to launch its linear cable network next year with the help of ESPN. A lack of a conference network has been blamed by some for the ACC ranking fifth amongst the Power Five college athletics conferences when it comes to per school payouts. Those rankings, including the amount awarded to each conference member, were as follows for 2017.

  1. Big Ten ($50 million +)
  2. SEC ($40.9 million)
  3. Big 12 ($36.5 million)
  4. Pac 12 ($31.5 million)
  5. ACC ($26.6 million)

Those payouts go a long way towards subsidizing athletic department budgets and hiring top name coaches and retaining elite assistants. It should be noted that the above numbers do not include the $1 million the ACC gives to each school to reimburse travel expenses to championship events. It also does not include tertiary source payments (such as the Longhorn Network) that the Big 12’s member schools receive.

Luke DeCock from the Raleigh News & Observer sites sources that say the ACC’s leagues office in Greensboro, NC is expecting the new Network’s profits to be high enough to move the conference into the top three.

It’s going to be almost impossible for the ACC to close the gap on the SEC and Big Ten, both of which had a considerable head start on their own (profitable) networks, but the ACC is counting on network revenue – which even in its least optimistic projections should be at least $10 million per school per year, once the network is up and running – to move it past the Pac-12 and even with the Big 12.

DeCock goes on to say that the highest estimations have profits high enough to send as much as $15 million to each of the ACC’s 14 full members and a slightly smaller amount to Notre Dame, who does not participate in ACC football.

There are still a lot of moving parts here. First, the ACC Network is still not even officially launched. Next, there are carriage deals to work out, although with the power of ESPN behind it, the ACC Network should be in a good position.

Still, if these projections are even close to accurate, it would put the ACC Network on stronger financial footing than the Pac 12 Network, even though it will have launched seven years later. Andrew Buchoiltz of Awful Announcing says there is value in the members of the Pac 12 owning their own network outright, but it may not have been the smartest play.

So, the Pac-12 Networks hadn’t yet reached $5 million per school by 2017, five years after launch. And the ACC Network’s forecasting at least double that by the time it gets “up and running.” Maybe that’s an overoptimistic projection, but if it isn’t, that would put the ACC in a nice place relative to the Pac-12, at least on the network side. Of course, it should be noted that the Pac-12 schools still own their network too, so there’s equity value there, but the ACC’s strategy of teaming up with ESPN for a network instead of starting their own sure is looking pretty good right about now.

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Stephen A. Smith Reportedly Looking for a ‘Pat McAfee Agreement’ with ESPN

“…Smith covets the blockbuster deal that the network used to persuade McAfee to decamp last year from FanDuel.”

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Stephen A. Smith

Last week John Ourand of Puck reported the news that negotiations had begun between ESPN and top personality Stephen A. Smith, host and Executive Producer of First Take. The report said ESPN had made an initial offer of 5 years and $90 million which would make Smith the top paid talent at ESPN. Yesterday Ourand reported the deal Smith is looking for is similar to the deal ESPN has with Pat McAfee which brought his The Pat McAfee Show over from Fan Duel.

Ourand writes, “…Smith covets the blockbuster deal that the network used to persuade McAfee to decamp last year from FanDuel. Notably, ESPN pays McAfee’s production company, which operates his talk show, $25 million a year—a fee that covers all its operating costs: salaries, insurance, fixed costs, etcetera. ESPN has also offered him about $5 million a year to appear on College GameDay, sources told me(McAfee has yet to sign the deal.)”

Some in the media have responded to the story about Smith’s contract and point to how much work he is already doing for ESPN and how often he appears on the network. According to Ourand, Smith isn’t looking for less work, he may in fact be looking for more.

Ourand wrote in his subscription newsletter, The Varsity, that he has been told Smith and his agents with WME have said Smith would like to be more involved in production, appear on more of its NFL programs and be available for anything needed by the advertising and affiliate relations departments.

Smith has not commented on the current negotiations, but when asked by Clay Travis recently if being the highest paid person at ESPN is important to him, Smith said:

“Yes. I’m not stuttering. Hell yes. I’ve mastered my own business. In the world of sports television, Clay Travis, I’ve been number one for twelve years…not only have I been number one every year I’ve been number one every week and every month of every year for the last twelve years. You don’t get to say that about too many people…I am so honored to have the colleagues I have…I’m the one that’s been No. 1 and at the end of the day, it would be nice one day for this man to stand before everyone and be like, ‘I’m No. 1 and this says I’m No. 1.”

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Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque: WWE-Netflix Deal is a ‘Game-Changing Moment’

“When we’re not thinking about business at hand now, we’re thinking about those moments, so in the fall as the shows shift around and once we get to Netflix – Netflix is a completely different animal.”

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Paul "Triple H" Levesque
Courtesy: World Wrestling Entertainment

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) is bringing Raw to Netflix beginning in January 2025 in a deal that is reportedly worth $5 billion over 10 years. Netflix reportedly has the option to opt out of the agreement after the first five years and extend the deal for an additional 10 years. As a result, Raw will be moving away from NBCUniversal platforms and cable television as a whole for the first time in 31 years, presenting an opportunity for WWE to continue innovating its presentation in a new way. NBCUniversal-owned USA Network, however, will begin broadcasting SmackDown beginning this October. Paul “Triple H” Levesque, the chief content officer of WWE, was asked by Ty Schmit of The Pat McAfee Show if the company is thinking about what will change with the new presentation of Raw on Netflix.

Levesque appeared on the program following the announcement that WWE had agreed to a deal with Indiana Sports Corp. that will bring WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Royal Rumble to Indianapolis. Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, will host all three premium live events that will begin with Royal Rumble on Feb. 1, 2025. Other WWE properties, including Raw, SmackDown, NXT and WWE Live Events will take place from arenas across the state of Indiana, including Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Evansville, during the partnership. As Raw prepares to move to Netflix next year, Levesque revealed that the company is projecting the capabilities that the new partnership will allow.

“When we’re not thinking about business at hand now, we’re thinking about those moments, so in the fall as the shows shift around and once we get to Netflix – Netflix is a completely different animal,” Levesque said. “It’s a streaming service. How are commercials going to work? How are breaks going to work? What’s the length of time? What are the restrictions [and] what are not restrictions?”

Levesque mentioned how there are times when FOX has had to cut the audio and/or video when instances occur that could violate FCC broadcasting rules and regulations. McAfee believed that he was referencing when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had the crowd engage in a call-and-response chant calling Austin Theory an “a**hole.”

“The Rock comes in and you sort of kind of can’t tell The Rock what to do – what are we going to tell him – so he does what he does, but we won’t have those issues [on] Netflix,” Levesque said. “The ability to be live globally; the ability to have everything seen all at once everywhere, it’s a game-changing moment, and I think in many ways – not to disparage other partners because we want to be everywhere, but that’s sort of where the world is heading, right, is streaming services.”

Prognosticating towards the future of the Raw presentation, Levesque believes sports entities are going to be watching how the WWE and Netflix agreement materializes. As it pertains to the business logistics of the deal, he expects to have leagues watching what they will be doing, acknowledging that the NFL also reached an agreement with Netflix to broadcast Christmas Day games.

“Everybody from live content is very thankful you guys did a deal with Netflix for a weekly live show,” McAfee said. “Just want to let you know that.”

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John Anderson to Join University of Missouri Faculty After Leaving SportsCenter

“Why wouldn’t you want to go play for the Yankees? That’s what Mizzou is.”

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Photo of John Anderson of ESPN from the Missouri School of Journalism
Photo Courtesy: Missouri School of Journalism

John Anderson, who announced in March that he would leave ESPN’s SportsCenter when his contract runs out at the end of the month, has found his landing spot. He will be joining the faculty at his alma mater, the University of Missouri. The Missouri School of Journalism said Anderson will be the school’s Endowed Chair in Radio and Television Journalism and will begin with the spring semester in January 2025.

Anderson, who joined ESPN in 1999 does plan to continue covering certain events, but after 25 years he thought it was time to stop doing ESPN’s flagship show. His final SportsCenter is scheduled for Friday, June 28.

    “My contract runs out at ESPN at the end of June,” Anderson said on his podcast back in March. “I have decided that that will be the end. I’m going to leave the company. I’m going to sort of retire from ‘SportsCenter.’ I’m going to get to do a few track-and-field things, I’m going to get to continue to do the Boston Marathon and the New York Marathon – which I love – and some NCAA track meets and some SEC stuff.

    “I am incredibly excited about that. It’s been a good run…I feel like it’s been a good run. The operation has changed. I don’t know that it’s passed me by, but it’s taken its toll and I still want to be able to do the best shows that I can, and I don’t know that if in years 26 or 27 I have the stamina to do it again.”

    About his new role, Anderson said in a release from the school, “Why wouldn’t you want to go play for the Yankees? That’s what Mizzou is. If you’re going to go play, why not go play for the team with all the world titles? I could not have thought of a better post-ESPN landing spot.”

    Anderson said he comes from a long line of educators. “My grandparents were teachers, and my mother, being raised by those people, had respect for teachers. Two of my uncles taught math. That sort of trickled down to me,” he said.

    “John has kept fans and aspiring sports journalists in the know for more than two decades, and I’m so excited that he has chosen to bring that experience back to his alma mater for the benefit of new generations of students,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism said in a release.

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