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Monday, July 22, 2024
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Big 12 Presses Media Rights Negotiations, But Formal Status Unclear

  • The conference will explore its next media contract earlier than originally planned.
  • The decision is likely motivated by conference realignment.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 begins the arms race a bit early for the most valuable resource in the Power 5 — media rights revenue — continues.

On Wednesday, the Big 12 announced that it will begin talks with current partners FOX and ESPN earlier than planned. 

In a statement to Front Office Sports, however, ESPN cautioned that the discussions are not necessarily formal. “We regularly engage in conversation around the future with all of our partners, but to be clear, we have not opened the contractual negotiation window with the Big 12 at this time,” the network said.

The Big 12 is motivated by conference realignment. 

  • The Big 12’s existing media rights deal is slightly more lucrative than those of the Pac-12 and ACC, but lagging severely behind the Big Ten and SEC.
  • The current deal, which extends until 2025, contributed to payouts of around $38 million per school in 2020, per tax returns.

If the Big 12 can get an indication of its worth when it loses Texas and Oklahoma but gains four other members, it may strengthen the conference’s position.

Race With Pac-12

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff previously said the conference had begun media rights negotiations earlier than expected. The Pac-12’s contract, though less lucrative than the Big 12, ends in 2024. If the conference can beat the Big 12 to a new deal, it might have an edge in conference realignment.

New Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark is likely trying to prevent that.

“Given the changing landscape, we welcome the opportunity to engage with our partners to determine if an early extension is in the best interest of all parties,” Yormark said.

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