The Big 12 are set to extend their current television contract with ESPN and Fox, according to ESPN sources.
The league is in the final stages of putting in place a six-year, $2.28 billion contract extension that includes a huge salary increase for schools. The new contract, which takes effect from 2025, includes ESPN owning more than 60% of the inventory and Fox adding a significant portion of college basketball.
The near completion of the contract was first reported by the Sports Business Journal.
The deal sees the Big 12 making a big boost in per-school media revenue, though Oklahoma and Texas won’t be in the league after the 2024 season. A source said the league is expected to agree to a concession of rights with its 12 members for the duration of the agreement.
The overall value of the Big 12 media deal is expected to rise from $220 million a year to $380 million. This is an average increase in media-only revenue per school from $22 million to $31.7 million (the $380 million is now split 12 ways with the addition of BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston).
The new deal will mark a slight increase in the overall Big 12 distribution number, which currently stands at $42.6 million per school. This number is subject to a myriad of variables such as NCAA tournament units, bowl revenue, and new college football playoff revenue.
It is prudent to project that overall revenue per school will increase to nearly $50 million from 2025-26. That number could well be much larger depending on how much money the 12-team college football playoff provides.
“I think it positions the Big 12 as a continuing player in college athletics,” a Big 12 source said. “It makes them a really viable entity and keeps them strongly positioned in college athletics and among conferences. Power 5.”
Former Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Texas lawmakers in August 2021 that the league could suffer a 50% drop in media revenue following the departure of Oklahoma and Texas.
This decision to expand with current Big 12 television partners is a byproduct of new commissioner Brett Yormark’s aggressive push since taking office and the Big 12’s declaration of being “open for business.”
This summer, Yormark maneuvered creatively to get the league to engage with current TV partners nearly a year and a half before the exclusive negotiation window opened. The league announced plans to commit Aug. 31 and now has the framework for an earlier deal than the Pac-12, although the Pac-12 is on the open market with its deal expiring at the end of the season. next season.
“With the transition of the two schools and the four schools, it provides stability to the conference,” the Big 12 sources said. “And obviously it increases revenue.”
The Big 12 opted not to go to the open market, a move that did not expose the league to outside bidders and could have potentially made the Big 12 more money in the long run. But it gives the league security and visibility on traditional platforms.
ESPN’s increased investment in the league will give it access to both the biggest inventory and the best games in the league. According to reports from the SBJ, ESPN’s so-called “A” package includes the top four football picks each season and 12 of the top 20. That gives Fox a sizable chunk of solid inventory from the 26 football games it has each year. According to the SBJ, ESPN wins the Big 12 football championship and the men’s and women’s basketball championships.
Along with a significant investment and commitment to Big 12 football, Fox is adding Big 12 basketball to the mix. The Big 12 has been the top men’s basketball conference in the nation for the past few seasons, with Kansas and Baylor winning the last two national titles and Texas Tech losing the title game in overtime in 2019.
There should continue to be consistent revenue from NCAA tournament units for the league given Houston, Cincinnati and BYU’s strong recent basketball history.
The near-completion of the deal will shift focus to the Pac-12, which reports have linked to Amazon as a potential partner. With Fox having access to USC and UCLA games through the Big Ten deal, he had only been loosely tied to the Pac-12. ESPN’s level of interest in the league following this commitment will be closely monitored.
The Big 12 deal will expire in 2031, a year after the record Big Ten deal expired. Notably for the Big 12 in the future, the contract arrives before the SEC (2034) and ACC (2036) agreements expire. This expansion will mark the end of what is known as Third Tier Rights for the Big 12, in which schools controlled certain game inventory. Instead, those third-tier rights will be distributed to ESPN, meaning schools no longer have to sell them.
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