Report: Big 12, ESPN and FOX Sports Agree on New Deal

I can still watch my team.

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd and Sports Business Journal’s Michael Smith and Joh Ourand both reported that the Big 12 along with ESPN and FOX Sports have agreed to a $2.28B deal with an average of $380M per year, going through 2030-31. A shorter 6-year deal allows the Big 12 to step in ahead of the SEC and ACC. The Dodd article notes that teams will pull in an average of $47 to $50 million a year and increased their payout by $5 million annually after Texas and Oklahoma leave. From CBS Sports:

The competitiveness of the Big 12 this season — with teams other than Texas and Oklahoma stepping into prominent roles leading the league — was at least partially responsible for a deal getting done so quickly.

The Pac-12, meanwhile, will see USC and UCLA depart for the Big Ten in 2024. It has not yet expanded its membership, and it’s media rights value has plummeted below that of the Big 12 as a result. The Pac-12’s exclusive negotiating window with ESPN and Fox has since lapsed with the conference appearing open to parcelling out at least some of its rights to a major streaming service.

Also crucial to the Big 12’s extension is its shorter terms. With the contract now ending in 2031, the Big 12 will position itself to negotiate its next media rights deal ahead of the SEC and ACC, whose exclusive contracts with ESPN expire in 2034 and 2036, respectively.

Extra Points with Matt Brown has 5 good thoughts on the new deal and and that this doesn’ tmean that ESPN is on the outs with the Pac-12:

What I’ve heard from TV consultant types, and what other smart reporters have shared over the last few months, is that there isn’t likely to be an enormous difference between the Pac-12 and Big 12 payouts. The Big 12 is now at $31.7ish over the next several years, and can offer cost certainty. Perhaps the Pac-12 is able to better monetize the Pac-12 Network and finds a streaming partner to overpay, and they can distribute $37 or $38 million. Perhaps the streaming bets never materialize, and the Pac-12 only distributes $27ish million in their next deal. I do not believe that this deal means that ESPN is no longer interested in being a major broadcast partner of the Pac-12.

If you’re an AD, five, seven, ten million one way or another is a big deal, but that funding alone isn’t enough to change conference affiliation, and the brands in either league who expect to compete for championships in football and basketball can fundraise and hire around it, provided they have good campus-level stewards of resources.

My best read is that the core fundamentals haven’t really changed. If the Big Ten decides they want Oregon and Washington, it doesn’t really matter what wizardly the Pac-12 is able to spin with Amazon…the Big Ten is going to take those teams, and potentially more…and then you don’t really have a Pac-12 anymore. If the Big Ten doesn’t, then the Pac-12 and Big 12 will be able to function just fine, with one league distributing a little more than the other, and their respective partisans sniping at each other into infinity.

I know that the two fanbases, the Pac 12 and Big 12 have been arguing about who is going to get or has received the better deal and I honestly don’t care. I’m happy that Texas Tech gets to play football on platforms where I can watch them and I’m good with that. Maybe the Pac-12 gets a better deal, but that’s pretty irrelevant to me.

And that’s not to say that the Big 12 Commissioner at the time, Bob Bowlsby, expected that the Big 12 teams would have their shares cut in half with their current payouts and there were numerous media outlets that predicted that the Big 12 would be dead. That didn’t happen

I do think that Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark did a fantastic job of securing a new deal and he got to work pretty quickly. I’m more thankful than not that the Big 12 is still viable and still a thing.


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