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California nets $8.5 million in TV rights for state championship events

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Television rights continue to skyrocket across the sports spectrum, and now high school sports in California can officially be counted among the winners after details of a recent contract between the California Interscholastic Federation and Time Warner Cable were released.

As noted by the Los Angeles Times, a new 15-year pact between CIF and Time Warner grants the cable carrier's networks exclusive rights to televise all state championships for a fee of -- wait for it -- $8.5 million. Yes, you read that correctly: California's state title games, like the football game involving Fontana (Calif.) Summit High, above, are reportedly worth an average of more than $550,000 per year.

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California Interscholastic Federation -- CIFstate.org

California Interscholastic Federation -- CIFstate.org

Keep in mind that these rights are only for state championships; it won't include any regular-season contests, which any regional sports networks can negotiate with individual districts and regions by themselves.

According to details from the pact obtained by the Times, the contract will pay CIF $550,000 in its first year and then include a built-in increase of 4 percent per year throughout the next 14 years of the contract.

While those sums might seem extreme, one of the industry's top consultants insisted that the deal actually represented good value for Time Warner in the ever-competitive arena of burgeoning rights fees.

"High school sports, particularly high school championships, is increasing because it's a valuable property for regional sports networks," Lee Burke of LHB Sports, Entertainment & Media told the Times. "It makes a lot of sense for them."

Needless to say, given the relatively small amount of contests that the CIF is ceding for those rights, it means a heck of a lot of sense for the state organization, too.

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