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Not Everything Turns To Gold For Texas Longhorns

Wednesday, 24 Aug 2011 | 11:34 AM ET
Espn's Longhorn Network
Espn's Longhorn Network

On Friday, ESPN's The Longhorn Network will debut. It's all Texas all the time and the money associated with the deal and the fear that it could cause them to leave the Big 12, has forced Texas A & M to look east and consider joining the SEC.

And while everything is big for Texas — a $150 million-plus athletic department budget and a stadium that now seats over 100,000 — it's not necessarily the unstoppable financial juggernaut that so many have called them.

Let's start with the Longhorn Network, which launches Friday, but has no carriers. Texas will receive $10.98 million a year and receive guaranteed three percent bumps through the life of the contract.

But Texas will only receive the truly big bucks — equal to 70 percent of the net revenue — after ESPN nets $295 million on the project. That might never happen. Carriers will surely come, but at what price will they accept a deal? And how many Longhorn fans will push their local carriers to get something done with one football game and eight men's basketball games? ESPN officials did not immediately respond to comment.

Then there's the issue with ticket prices. Texas is charging $70 for the Rice game, $75 for Kansas and Kansas State, $85 Oklahoma State & BYU and $95 for Texas Tech. Coming off a horrible 5-7 year, it appears like there's a glut in the marketplace for the non-marquee games and fans easily see that now that StubHub is the official secondary ticketing site of the Longhorns.

With hundreds of tickets under $50 for the Rice game, Texas sent out an e-mail to its season ticket holders this week offering half-price seats on its non-marquee games. Some of those seats are in areas where people have paid a donation on top of the face value, showing just how overpriced some of its tickets are.

And it's only going to get worse if Texas doesn't turn it around this year and there are no guarantees of that. Until last October, Texas had the longest active ranked streak in the AP Top 25. They were ranked for 162 weeks dating back to the 2000 season.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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