Reports: Big 12 Conference agrees to 6-year media rights extension with ESPN and Fox

Incoming Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark, right, shares a laugh with outgoing Commissioner Bob Bowlsby at a news conference opening the NCAA college football Big 12 media days in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, July 13, 2022. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The Big 12 Conference has reached an agreement on a six-year contract extension with ESPN and Fox worth more than $2 billion that will keep the conference’s media rights with those networks through the 2030-31 college sports seasons, according to people familiar with the deal.

Two people confirmed details of the new media rights deal to The Associated Press on Sunday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because contracts have yet to be finalized. No official announcement is expected soon.

Sports Business Journal was the first to report the deal would be worth $380 million annually. The Big 12 still has two years left on its current deals with Fox and ESPN.

New Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark announced in August he was engaging the networks in discussions about an extension and just a few weeks ago said a new deal could be done soon.

The television deal provides stability to a league that a little more than a year ago seemed to be in danger of falling apart.

Oklahoma and Texas announced in the summer of 2021 that they intended to leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference at the end of the current TV deal, which expires in 2025.

Former Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and the conference moved quickly to add Houston, Cincinnati, Central Florida and BYU. Those four will join next year, giving the Big 12 14 teams for at least one season.

It would cost tens of millions of dollars for Texas and Oklahoma to break current contracts and leave the conference early.

Without the Longhorns and Sooners, there were concerns about how much networks would value the the Big 12. The final two years of the current deal pays $220 million annually.

Based on Sunday’s news, it appears as if the conference is headed toward making more money per member even without OU and Texas.

Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard tweeted as much on Sunday, noting that, with payouts from the College Football Playoff and NCAA, the conference would bring in nearly $50 million per member, up from a Big 12 record $42.6 million during the most recent payout.

According to a report from The Athletic, the increase in revenue per member when considering just the TV deal is expected to jump from an estimated $28 million per year currently to $31.7 per member in a 12-team conference.

The Athletic’s report also cited sources who indicated that a “pro rata” clause was expected to be a part of the contract extension with ESPN and Fox. Such a clause would allow for the value of the contract to grow in the event that the Big 12 elects to add more members in the future.

Pollard praised Yormark for “delivering in the clutch,” and, in a separate tweet, gave credit to Bowlsby, saying the extension would not have happened without Bowlsby acting quickly to add the new members when OU and Texas announced they were leaving.

“Total team effort,” Pollard wrote.


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