The University of Maryland’s Board of Directors voted 11/19 to defect from the ACC to the Big Ten. Rutgers will likely do the same. According to a Sports Illustrated story, a television executive familiar with Northeast markets and money tells the magazine the move could ultimately be worth as much as $200 million annually for the Big Ten in cable subscription fees.
There are an estimated 15 million available households in the New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and DC markets. If the Big Ten Network got on basic cable in all those places (a long shot), the per-household figure by the time Rutgers and Maryland joined the league would project in the neighborhood of $1.25 per month. That would equate to about $200 million per year, noted the SI story.
The risk comes because none of that money is guaranteed. Considering the struggles the Pac-12 has had with DirecTV and the distribution issues surrounding the Longhorn Network, it’s clear cable subscribers automatically handing over distribution is far from a given. (The Lakers have struggled to obtain distribution in Los Angeles this season, yet another sign of a new era in cable TV.)
“It’s a long fight,” the television executive told SI of the Big Ten cashing in on Maryland and Rutgers. “That’s the potential. There’s a lot of negotiating to happen before that.”
While getting all 15 million homes is unlikely, this could potentially be a $100 million annual television windfall for the Big Ten. (That figure doesn’t include the additional money that will come from the added markets and games when the Big Ten negotiates its next television contract in 2017.) It’s estimated that the Big Ten’s annual payout could increase to between $30-35 million per year, nearly double the ACC’s $17 million payout.