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Conference USA set for sharp television revenue drops

Realignment is starting to lighten Conference USA's wallets.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Conference USA last signed a TV contract in 2011.  That contract was with both Fox and a newly minted CBS Sports Network. Since that deal was signed, CUSA has seen SMU, Memphis, Houston, UCF, Tulsa, Tulane, and East Carolina depart and about two-thirds of the league's membership is new.

All of that realignment seems to be finally hitting Conference USA where it hurts, their wallets. Harry Minium's piece in the Virginia Pilot is a great read. As Minium notes, "Old Dominion anticipates a $600,000 to $700,000 yearly decline in revenue from Conference USA's new TV contracts, down from the $1 million per school that league teams currently receive.".

So what are the declines reflective of, a diminished Conference USA product or the failure of the CBS Sports Network to take off or both? CUSA hoops are already nearly impossible to find and has been hurting even more than the football product as most of the games are run on the American Sports Network, which is a patchwork production platform for college sports.

The good news is that according to Minium, ESPN could go bargain shopping and pick up a CUSA contract. With that being said you have to wonder if the move for some of these schools has been less than satisfactory.