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Report: Big 12 Conference Agrees To New Media Rights Deal With ESPN, Fox

Oct 30, 2022, 8:31 AM | Updated: 10:03 am
Big 12, Conference Realignment...
Conference realignment has struck college athletics again with USC and UCLA off to the Big Ten. What does the Big 12 do in response? (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Big 12 Conference agreed to a a new media rights deal with ESPN and Fox, according to Michael Smith and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal.

The deal was reported on Sunday, October 30.

The conference’s new media rights deal is reportedly a six-year agreement worth a total of $2.2 billion or $380 million annually. The Big 12 has two years left on its current contract with the broadcast partners. The new deal is a significant increase from the current contract.

“The once-beleaguered Big 12 has stabilized its future by coming to terms with ESPN and Fox Sports on a six-year media rights agreement worth a total of $2.28B, an annual average of $380M, according to sources. The Big 12 has two years remaining on its current deal, which runs through the 2024-25 season at an annual average of $220M in its final years. The new six-year extension runs through 2030-31.”

The deal was brokered by new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark, who took over for Bob Bowlsby on August 1. Shortly after taking over the post, Yormark and the Big 12 entered media rights discussions early to “explore an accelerated extension of its current agreements.”

The existing Big 12 media rights run through June 30, 2025. Before Wednesday, the Big 12 wasn’t scheduled to hit negotiations with ESPN and FOX until February 2024.

”It is an exciting time for college athletics and given the changing landscape we welcome the opportunity to engage with our partners to determine if any early extension is in the best interest of all parties,” said Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark in an August statement. “The Big 12 has enjoyed a fantastic relationship with its multi-media rights holders, and I look forward to having these conversations.”

Big 12 Conference seeking media rights extension amid conference realignment

The Big 12 entered media rights talks comes at a time where the Pac-12 Conference is holding negotiations with their potential media rights partners.

An extension of its existing media rights could give the Big 12 Conference an opportunity to have data to show Pac-12 schools for potential conference realignment moves.

The Big 12 Conference is gearing up to welcome BYUCincinnati, UCF, and Houston beginning on July 1, 2023. Those four schools were added to the league after Texas and Oklahoma declared they are leaving for the SEC in 2025.

No higher priority for the Big 12 than its media rights

When Yormark made his introduction as conference commissioner at Big 12 Media Days in July, he noted that the media rights for the league is a top priority for him and his league members.

”One thing is crystal clear: There is no higher priority than to best position the Big 12 for its upcoming multimedia rights negotiations,” Yormark said in July. “Everything we do must create momentum for these negotiations, as well as building the value of the Big 12 brand and business.”

When Yormark was announced as commissioner in June, Fox Sports CEO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks gave high praise to the hiring of Yormark and also said, “…we look forward to continuing to build on our relationship as a premier partner of the Big 12.”

While many potential media rights holders are out there from streaming entities, it’s believed that linear will still be the top piece to the Big 12’s media rights in the future.

”I’ve had a working relationship with ESPN and FOX for many years. I’m big fans of what they do. They’re the best in the business,” Yormark said in July. “I look forward to at the right time engaging with them on meaningful conversations on how we can enhance and amplify the value equation and how they glamorize and promote and market our great conference.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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