Big 12 Conference Agrees to New TV Deal With ESPN & FOX, With Additional Streaming Rights
The negotiations between the Big 12 Conference and ESPN and FOX have broken through to the end zone. It was reported on Sunday, Oct. 30 that the three sides have agreed to an extension of the broadcast rights to Big 12 football and basketball games through the end of the 2031 season, according to Sports Business Journal.
The deal is a six-year extension of the agreement already in place, which was due to expire following the 2024-25 athletic season. The contract includes more football and basketball, along with women’s soccer and volleyball games for ESPN’s streaming platform ESPN+. ESPN will also receive the top-four football picks each season, six of the top eight picks, eight of the top 12 picks, and 12 of the top 20 picks. Per the agreement, ESPN has also secured the rights to the Big 12 football championship game and the basketball tournament championship game.
FOX will get 26 football games to air each season which will run on its broadcast network as well as FS1. Fox will also be getting Big 12 basketball games for the first time under the terms of the new extension. Those games will also be split between FOX and FS1.
The new agreement comes after reports came out earlier this month that the conference was seeking a contract extension with the two networks earlier than would otherwise be normal due to all of the conference expansion happening across college athletics. The deal is a big score for new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark, who took over the post on Aug. 1 and dove into negotiations immediately despite the conference’s exclusive negotiating window with the networks not beginning until February of 2024.
The deal will bring the conference an additional $2.28 billion over six years, an average annual value of $380 million. That’s a hefty raise over the $220 million that the Big 12 was slated to earn in 2024-25, the previous final year of the contract.
The extension may come as something of a surprise considering that the Big 12 is set to lose its two marquee schools — Texas and Oklahoma — at the end of the 2024-25 season. But the conference will add BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and the University of Central Florida in the 2023-24 season.
The Big 12 took a decidedly different route in its negotiations than the Pac-12 conference, which is also set to lose two of its biggest brands when USC and UCLA head to the Big Ten in 2024. That conference allowed its exclusive negotiation window with FOX and ESPN to lapse so that it could sell its rights on a larger market. No deal has been announced yet, but the conference is believed to currently be in negotiation with Amazon and others.
From the Big 12’s perspective, having the agreement finalized early gives it a big advantage; the conference has a media rights deal locked up, and it now has leverage not only with its own schools but with others potentially looking to find a new conference home. Broadcast TV deals are incredibly lucrative for colleges, and more schools may leave the Pac-12 if it signs a deal that shifts its games primarily to streaming.
On the other hand, having the terms of the Big 12’s deal now public may help the Pac-12’s deal get done faster. Pac-12 fans should keep an eye out for a new deal now that the conference and the potential buyers of its rights have a baseline to negotiate from.
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