Whether he is analyzing the last five years of the AP rankings for BCS conferences or playing mind games with a dead philosopher, Scipio is giving us a breakdown of just how the perception of the Big12-2 might effect a National Championship run.
Me? I would like to take on the conundrum of how a sleeker (i.e. smaller) Big 12 can draw bigger TV bucks. First step is to look at the basics -- the primary and secondary TV markets in the leagues.
For the purposes of this analysis, a primary market is simply the TV market where the University is located. The secondary markets are either the Designated Market Area (DMA) that the University is in or a large market where there is a history of supporting one or more of the programs in a conference.
While there isn't much in terms of Top 20 markets, at least they are markets where there is little or no pro competition. Iowa State may be in a decent market, but they are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of Iowans to the University of Iowa.
The secondary markets of Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and San Antonio are the prime reason Texas holds the balance of power in the league -- and key factors as to why we wanted nothing to do with a Big 12 Network and why the Longhorn Network is a priority.
I have a hard time imagining that this lineup will produce $130 million a year from Fox.
Like any other corporation, conferences need to create a brand or identity. The Southeastern Conference is the gold standard of branding. They have an emotional and cultural connection with their fan base, while also creating a strong and distinctive image of who they are (the best conference in the nation) and what their product is (championships). With the help of their media partners (ABC/ESPN) they have higher perceived value than its competitors across the nation.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
That is another strong factor in favor of the SEC. They dominate the landscape in their primary markets and while their large secondary markets (Atlanta, Orlando, New Orleans) may have a pro presence, they also have strong tradition of supporting college football. Florida may be in a very small market, but they have their own network that produces extra millions because it has strong statewide appeal in areas such as Tampa, Jacksonville, and even Miami.
Some people have expressed disbelief that the ACC could have a better TV contract that the old Big 12 but this list is a pretty good explanation. The top markets are pro dominated, but the league's strength is in markets in the 20-40 range. College is king in those markets and they get good enough numbers in those Top 20 markets to make them a positive influence on the bottom line.
Ohio State and Michigan drive the Big 10 bus, which is why the league leaders would love Rich Rodriguez succeed in Ann Arbor. Those secondary markets are the key to the quick success of the Big 10 Network. The BTN collects 70 cents per subscriber per month in states where they have a University. Those Top 25 markets turned out to have a lot of Big 10 alumni more than willing to pay the fee. The Big 10 is now distributing almost $22 million in TV revenue annually to its 11 current members. Adding Nebraska is a safe move. Omaha may only be 72nd in TV market size, but their fanbase will purchase the BTN at a much higher rate than that.
A cursory look at the TV markets in these conferences makes it easy to predict that the Big 12-2 is not a long term solution. Texas will take the opportunity to use the Big Ten Network as a template to establish the Longhorn Network, which could take 3-5 years, just in time for another round of TV talks and expansion.