The Big 12 reportedly has reached a new media rights deal.
Sports Business Journal is reporting that the conference has re-upped with ESPN and Fox on a new six-year agreement “worth a total of $2.28 billion.” The Big 12’s current deal has two years remaining, so the six-year extension will run through 2030-31.
The annual average distribution comes out to $380 million when the new contract begins in 2025-26, per SBJ. That’s an average of $31.6 million for the conference’s 12 members, not including revenue that comes from the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the soon-to-be expanded College Football Playoff.
The current deal has an average of $220 million per year. According to Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard, Big 12 schools will get “close to $50 million” annually, up from the $41 million they currently receive.
The conference’s new media rights deal comes only a few months after the hire of new commissioner Brett Yormark. Yormark and conference leadership lobbied to open up the Big 12’s negotiating rights window with networks early in order to reach a new deal and bring stability to the league despite the impending departures of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC in 2025.
The Big 12’s future looked to be on shaky ground with its two most high-profile members exiting, a move that looked like it would be hugely detrimental to the conference’s bottom line. However, former commissioner Bob Bowlsby was quick to add BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, and cede way to Yormark to negotiate a new media rights agreement. Those four members will officially join the Big 12 on July 1, 2023.
Notably, the new Big 12’s new contract reportedly does not close the door for additional expansion.
That’s notable to the Pac-12, which is also on tenuous ground and has seen the value of its media rights drop after USC and UCLA decided to depart for the Big Ten. It has been widely reported that the Big 12 has had contact with Pac-12 members Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.
The Pac-12 is trying to reach a new deal with its media rights expiring in 2024. It had an exclusive negotiating window with ESPN and Fox, but allowed it to expire in order to go to market. Per SBJ, companies like Amazon and Apple could be involved in the Pac-12 deal in addition to ESPN and Fox.
For the Big 12, the shorter-term length of the new deal allows it to go back to market ahead of the SEC and ACC, whose agreements end in 2034 and 2036, respectively.
As part of the new agreement, ESPN receives the first bid on the top four college football selections each season and also has the rights to the Big 12 title game in football and the championship game of the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament.
From Sports Business Journal:
For the “A” package, ESPN gets the top four football picks each season, six of the top eight picks, eight of the top 12 picks and 12 of the top 20 picks. As part of the deal, ESPN also gets the rights to the Big 12 football championship game and the basketball tournament championship game. The Big 12’s parity helped convince Fox, whose package includes 26 football games per season that will run on Fox broadcast network and FS1, to do the deal.