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$1B BigTen Deal and Paying The Players a Percentage
A look at the math behind paying college players a percentage of TV deals.
You know what’s absurd — the amount of money for media rights in sports these days.
Just yesterday, the Big Ten conference announced a deal worth over $1B annually with CBS, FOX, NBC, and Peacock.
The players won’t see a penny of it (yet).
This is what commissioner Kevin Warren had to say about the deal.
“The Big Ten Conference media rights are more than just dollars and deals. They are a mechanism to provide stability and maximum exposure for our student-athletes, member institutions, and partners during these uncertain times in collegiate athletics.”
Instead of saying “uncertain times in collegiate athletics” — Warren should have just said “the first time in history players are compensated what they’re worth” as that’s what NIL has begun to enable.
And instead of saying “student-athletes” — Warren should have just said “maximum exposure for our football and basketball players” as that’s what makes up most of this media deal.
The Big 10 Media Deal
There’s a common theme here…
NBC will produce 14-to-16 college football games on broadcast television each season.
Every Big Ten game on NBC broadcast will also be streamed on Peacock, NBCUniversal's direct-to-consumer streaming service.
FOX has renewed its agreement to televise football and men’s basketball games each season.
They will have the opportunity to carry additional sports throughout the year.
The 2023 season will include seven football games and both regular season and postseason men’s basketball action.
Every CBS Big Ten football and basketball broadcast will also be streamed on Paramount+, Paramount Global’s direct-to-consumer streaming service.
Starting in 2024, CBS will televise up to 15 regular-season football games per season, including an annual Black Friday game in the afternoon.
Big Ten Network (BTN)
BTN will continue to televise a full slate of football, basketball, and Olympic sport competitions throughout the entire year.
NBCUniversal's direct-to-consumer streaming service will deliver exclusive Big Ten football and basketball games each season:
8 regular-season football games
47 regular-season men’s basketball games
30 regular-season women’s basketball games
CBS, FOX, and NBC will combine efforts to televise the seven Big Ten Football Championship Games during the contract agreement.
Did you notice the trend?
If not, let me lay it out for you….
The rights of this $1B media deal are almost exclusively focused on football and men’s & women’s basketball.
That’s where I have a hard time…
1. The Big Ten conference has no problem paying its top executives — commissioner Kevin Warren earns an approximate $4M/year (and rightfully so).
2. Schools have no problem paying their football and basketball coaches well — Ohio State pays football coach Ryan Day $9.5M/year and men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann $3M/year (and rightfully so).
But as soon as it comes to giving the players a cut of this massive media deal, everyone squawks and complains — even though we all know it’s fair.
Are there legal hurdles? Yes.
Are there difficulties? Yes.
The NFL’s TV contract is worth $100B and the NBA is seeking a contract north of $75B.
Best yet, the players are entitled to a 50/50 split with the league of those contracts.
Math Behind Collegiate Rev Sharing
I was curious, so I decided to do a little math behind this $1B Big Ten media deal (and what it would look like if the players were getting a cut).
To start, let’s make a few assumptions:
USC and UCLA are already in the Big Ten (so total 16 teams)
The revenue share split is 50/50 with the athletes
Football is entitled to 60%
Men’s basketball gets 35%
Women’s basketball gets 5%
Standard 85 football players per team, 13 MBB, 15 WBB
Olympic sports aren’t in the picture
All legal issues are taken care of
So starting off, the players would be entitled to $500 million/year (based on the 50/50 rev. share split which is standard in professional sports).
Using the percentage payouts per sport:
Big 10 football players would be entitled to $300M
men’s basketball players at $175M
women’s basketball players at $25M
Breaking this down further across the 16 member institutions…
There are 1,360 football players (16 teams x 85 players), 208 men’s hoopers, and 240 in women’s basketball.
We’re looking at nice pay-days for these Big 10 athletes….
• $221,000/yr for every football player ($300M/1360 players)
• $841,000/yr in men’s basketball
• $104,000/yr in women’s basketball
And honestly, these salaries make sense if you take a look at the averages in the pros.
Keep in mind…
A 50/50 split would collapse the collegiate system overnight.
However, a revenue-sharing model where the players (football, MBB, WBB) were entitled to 10% of the $1B media rights would be more realistic.
Using the assumptions from above we would end up with:
$44,100/yr for every Big10 football player
$168,300/yr for MBB
$20,800/yr for WBB
Based on a variety of factors (amount of televised games, team, viewers, etc) this could be shuffled around a bit.
There is more than enough money for the Big Ten to take care of the players.
At least provide them a minimum wage salary — which they pay the tutors of student-athletes.
I’m excited for the day that college athletes get a percentage of the media deals (on top of scholarships and NIL deals).
Overtime Elite pays top high school athletes $100,000 to play in their league, instead of going to college.
That’s the only proof you need — the money is there.
College sports are a behemoth.
The question that remains…
Will Olympic sports survive?
Basketball and football are separating themselves from the pack (but the money they produce is the only reason other sports are still afloat).
Who’s gotten hurt by this?
The actual football and basketball players producing the billions of dollars. Not the coaches, athletic directors, or league commissioners — their salaries continue to go up.
Athletes are starting to gain some real power and influence.
Don’t take care of them…and they’ll leave.
There’s enough money through endorsements and alternative leagues to bypass college and still make the pros.
LaMelo Ball is the perfect example.
He made money in high school, went and made more money in Australia as a pro, and still got drafted #3 in the 2020 NBA draft with $16M guaranteed.
Change is coming….
And athletes have more leverage than ever before.
It’s a beautiful time (especially if your sport involves scoring a touchdown or shooting threes).
Thanks for reading!
Have a great Friday and we’ll talk again on Sunday.
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