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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Big 12 Makes Media Rights Negotiations Its Main Priority

  • Brett Yormark enters the Big 12 commissioner role amid a seismic shift in college football.
  • “Everything we do must create momentum for [media rights] negotiations,” Yormark told reporters at Big 12 media days.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

On Aug. 1, Brett Yormark enters the Big 12 commissioner role amid a seismic shift in college football.

The Power 5 is on the verge of two “Super Leagues” — and the other conferences are threatened with irrelevance.

When asked whether the Big 12 could become a Super League, Yormark told reporters at Big 12 media days that he’s not paying attention to what his competitors are doing.

But he’s determined not only to keep the Big 12 intact, but also make it stronger and richer. His main strategy: prepping the conference for upcoming negotiations for a new media rights deal in 2025. 

“Everything we do must create momentum for these negotiations,” Yormark said. 

A lucrative media rights deal is the most important bargaining chip for keeping a conference together — as well as expanding it. 

  • The Big 12 distributed about $38 million to each school in 2020 per tax returns — most of which came from its media deal.
  • Without Texas and Oklahoma, though, the conference could have lost half of that media rights value, according to outgoing commissioner Bob Bowlsbly.
  • To compete with the SEC and Big Ten, the Big 12 will have to regain that value — which it started to do by adding four schools in 2024 — but will also have to make more moves.

Adding new members could whet the appetite of broadcast partners. Yormark’s conference realignment plan isn’t defined yet, though, beyond considering every possible option. 

He’s received “a lot of phone calls, a lot of interest” about potential new members. But he noted that any school must be “additive,” rather than “diluting” the conference’s revenue and value. 

“Sometimes,” he said, “the best deals are the ones that don’t get done.”

Yormark also has ideas for bolstering the conference’s existing brand. He wants it to be “younger, hipper,” as well as more national. He thinks social media and content strategy could help with that.

“We will leave no stone unturned to drive value for the conference,” Yormark said.

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