After the SEC and ESPN unveiled the new SEC Network and some of their programming plans for it, Mike Slive referenced the fact that the SEC and CBS had also agreed on a new deal. As part of that deal, the SEC Network will be able to air an afternoon game each Saturday which means CBS had to agree to nix its exclusive hold on that timeslot.
What else changed in the reworked agreement is unknown.
CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler writes that the terms of that agreement “are expected to remain intact,” meaning the deal will still run through 2023-24 and that the network will continue to pay the SEC $55 million per year for, basically, one game per week and the rights to the SEC Championship Game.
According to Fowler’s source, “the renegotiation also included the exchange of non-revenue assets that weren’t disclosed by a source.”
So did expansion pay off for the SEC if the CBS deal remains the same?
While each school’s split of the CBS revenue will be smaller — $55 million divided by 15 as opposed to $55 million divided by 13, with the league office always taking a full share — the new revenue stream created as a result of CBS’ acquiescence on the exclusivity front will more than make up for that shrinking portion. Think of it like a meal… if CBS is the appetizer — cash-wise — and ESPN the main course, the appetizer will get smaller but the main course will get larger.
If Fowler’s source is correct and CBS is not having to pay more money to an expanded SEC, that’s a win for the network. It’s product can also be rebroadcast by ESPN on the SEC Network which is promotion for CBS’ SEC game of the week programming. Whether any CBS advertisers will get “bonus” runs on ESPN remains to be seen (Aflac, for example, will get more eyeballs for its weekly in-game trivia question with a re-airing on the SEC Network).
Also, CBS continues to have the first pick of SEC games each week.
For the SEC, they’ve given up nothing (that we know of) other than the potential for greater revenue from CBS. In exchange, they’ve given themselves the opportunity to air three college football games on their new network each Saturday which should help the channel get cable and satellite carriage more quickly. And ESPN will be throwing money at the league for the right to broadcast those SEC games whether the network gains immediate carriage or has to fight for it slowly.
One other point: Assuming the SEC is still a juggernaut in 2023-24 — and the league’s financial outlook suggests it will be – and live football games are still pulling enormous ratings for networks, the SEC will be able to put its game of the week package back on the open market and cut a new massive deal with CBS or another distributor in 10 years.
With the information we currently have in hand, this renegotiation appears to be a win for both the Southeastern Conference and CBS.