The University of Colorado athletic department will earn more than double in annual distributions from the Pac-12 Conference what it had been receiving from the Big 12 under the terms of a record-setting media rights deal.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott will hold a press conference Wednesday morning in Phoenix to announce details of the agreement along with Randy Freer, president of Fox Sports Networks and Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president of College Sports Programming.
The deal will cover 12 years and is reportedly valued at nearly $3 billion, which breaks down to approximately $250 million to the league annually and $21 million per institution each year. By comparison, the current Pac-10 deal which expires after the 2011-12 school year is valued at $60 annually to the league.
The agreement exceeds those signed by the SEC ($205 million), ACC ($155 million) and Big 12 ($130 million) Conferences all in the past two years.
The league will keep some of its premium content -- football and men's basketball games -- to be shown on its own network, which will be formed and owned entirely by the league, setting up the possibility of much larger revenue figures for members down the road.
ESPN and Fox will both air football and basketball games from the league each week and will alternate in covering the football championship game and the men's basketball tournament each year. The agreement reportedly calls for Pac-12 football games to be aired on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and for men's basketball games to be aired on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Colorado has been receiving about $10 million annually from the Big 12 or a little more than 20 percent of its total athletic department budget. That figure includes TV, bowl game and NCAA Tournament revenue. The new distribution numbers in television money alone would account for more than 40 percent of the current year's budget.
"I believe any time that you're a part of significant progress and on the leading edge of your industry that certainly bodes well not only for our program but our student-athletes and our fans and the entire institution," CU athletic director Mike Bohn said. "That is one of the reasons we were so excited to be able to join the Pac-12 is because of their leadership across many spectrums. Larry Scott is delivering in a big way.
"It's just the beginning of some major opportunities for us at the University of Colorado and the entire league."
Bohn called the deal "a landmark agreement" that will utilize "multiple platforms and the newest and most modern technology." He emphasized that it could still be months before he and his staff know for sure how much money the department will be able to count on in the future from the Pac-12. He said how the department uses the increased revenue will be decided over time and only after knowing with more certainty what the actual budget impact will be.
"There are many aspects that are yet to be revealed and developed but the innovation and the leadership of Larry Scott is recognized by our entire campus as exemplary," Bohn said.
One of those aspects is reportedly a digital network in which the conference will stream games online that aren't selected for broadcast by its partners.
The deal should allow the Colorado athletic department to recover relatively quickly from the costs of switching conferences and other debts, including the fact that it is scheduled to receive relatively minimal distributions from the Pac-12 during its first year in the league in 2011-12.
When the Pac-10 announced it was expanding last year and invited Colorado and Utah to join, it put in place financial protections for USC and UCLA, which had traditionally earned more in television revenue than other schools in the league.
Those schools were promised $2 million more in distributions each year that the league's total revenue fell below a threshold $170 million. The new rights deal assures the league will meet that amount every year and that means equal revenue sharing will begin as soon as the deal begins at the start of the 2012-13 school year.
With each school receiving the same revenue from the conference, it will be up to fans and donors to elevate each department in the form of ticket sales and donations.