Big 12 Renews Media Rights Deal with ESPN and Fox Worth $2.28 Billion


The Big 12 is finalizing a new six-year media rights package extension with its current partners, ESPN and Fox, worth $2.28 billion.[2] The Big 12 has two years remaining on its current deal, which runs through the 2024-25 season at an annual average of $220 million in its final years.[3] The new six-year extension, which runs through 2030-31, includes a sizable pay bump for its member schools with an average annual revenue of $380 million — $160 million more than the final years of the current deal.[4] That is an average increase in media-only revenue per school from $22 million to $31.7 million, given that the $380 million annually will be divided 12 ways with the departure of Oklahoma and Texas and the addition of BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston following the 2024 season.[5]

The Big 12’s ability to not only strike a new contract extension, but to also generate a substantial increase in the annual media rights revenue, was considered a longshot just a year ago when the conference lost its two highest-profile schools, Oklahoma and Texas, to the SEC.[6] At that point in time, the Big 12’s future appeared bleak.[7] Former Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Texas lawmakers in August that the Big 12 could take a 50% media revenue hit.[8] However, Bowlsby moved swiftly to expand the Big 12’s footprint by adding BYU, Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston, which undoubtedly provided a boost to the conference’s position as a continued player in college athletics.[9]

The contract extension represents a big win for the Big 12 and new Commissioner Brett Yormark, who has taken an aggressive push since arriving in office in August and immediately declaring the Big 12 “open for business.”[10] This summer, Yormark creatively convinced the networks to start negotiating an extension nearly a year and a half before the exclusive negotiating window was set to open in February 2024 by telling them that any talks would not trigger the exclusive window.[11] Yormark moved quickly and was able to negotiate a package that will bring in millions more than the current deal in fewer than three months.[12]

In striking this six-year deal before the exclusive negotiating window with ESPN and Fox, the Big 12 managed to achieve several objectives, namely security and visibility on traditional platforms, stability during the conference’s membership realignment, and a leg up on other conferences for future media rights deals as the Big 12 will be back in the market ahead of both the SEC and the ACC, whose ESPN deals expire in 2034 and 2036, respectfully.[13]

From ESPN and Fox’s perspective, the new deal includes ESPN owning more than 60% of the inventory and Fox adding a sizable portion of college basketball.[14] ESPN’s package includes the top four football picks each season, six of the top eight picks, eight of the top twelve picks, and twelve of the top twenty picks.[15] Additionally, ESPN gets the Big 12 football championship and the men’s and women’s basketball championships.[16] The Fox package includes 26 football games per season and a slate of Big 12 college basketball games that will run on Fox broadcast network and FS1 for the first time.[17]

With the near-completion of the Big 12’s deal, the focus will shift to the Pac-12, which hasn’t announced a new package, even though its media rights deal expires in 2024.[18] Unlike the Big 12, the Pac-12 allowed its exclusive negotiating window with its incumbent partners ESPN and Fox to lapse, enabling the conference to take its rights to the broader market.[19] While ESPN and Fox are expected to be at the table, reports have linked Amazon and Apple as additional potential partners.[20]

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