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Big 12 signs 'monumental' 13-year, $2.6 billion TV deal

Big 12 signs 'monumental' 13-year, $2.6 billion TV deal

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Big 12 signs 'monumental' 13-year, $2.6 billion TV deal

Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby (right) called it a "monumental day" for the league after sealing the pact with ESPN and Fox.

With two years of turbulence in its rearview mirror, the Big 12’s future was solidified Friday as the conference announced it had reached a 13-year agreement with ESPN and the Fox Sports Media Group.

The contract is worth $2.6 billion and is expected to pay each of the 10 Big 12 schools approximately $20 million annually. The new media rights deal stipulates that any team that leaves the conference during the next 13 years would have to forfeit its future television revenue to the Big 12 through the end of the contract in 2024-25.

The media rights agreement was a key element in the contract after the Big 12 nearly fell apart after Nebraska left for the Big Ten, Colorado moved to the Pac-12, and Texas A&M and Missouri bolted to the SEC. The Big 12 added TCU and West Virginia to boost its membership to 10 teams.

“This is a monumental day,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “We are positioned with one of the best media rights arrangements in collegiate sports, providing the conference and its members with unprecedented revenue growth, and sports programming over two networks. We’re a fully aligned group of member institutions, and I expect our futures to go ahead in lockstep.”

Coming off its best sports year in school history, Baylor is positioned for future success in one of the most powerful and now stable conferences in the country.

“The greatest value of this contract to Baylor is cementing the stability of the Big 12,” Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw said. “We’ll benefit greatly from the exposure and enhanced revenue. It seems as if the momentum continues with our success of the past year, the new football stadium, and a long-term contract. All these events have elevated Baylor athletics to previously unimagined heights.”

ESPN and Fox will share jointly in Big 12 football over-the-air and cable rights, providing the league with more national television exposure than ever. ABC/ESPN will televise 19 football games per year through 2015 before increasing to 23 games per year in 2016. Approximately, 38 football games will be televised annually on Fox networks with a minimum of six games on a national cable outlet.

Beginning in 2016, ESPN and Fox will rotate in choosing the premier Big 12 games each week.

“This will prove to be unprecedented national exposure for the Big 12,” Bowlsby said. “The breadth and depth of our two TV partners is truly extraordinary. When you’re partnered with two tremendous organizations, it gives strength to all.”

Every Big 12 home football game will be carried on ESPN, Fox or an institutional platform. Each Big 12 school will have the option to retain rights to one football game on a third-tier network — such as the Longhorn Network on ESPN — or return the game back to Fox for broadcast.

Fox Sports is set for a third-tier broadcast arrangement with the Oklahoma Sooners. McCaw said Baylor is exploring third-tier television possibilities with potential broadcast partners for one future football game, several basketball games and other sports.

“Despite the Longhorn Network being out there first, the other schools are well on their way to doing their own things to explore third-tier rights,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president for college sports programming. “All members of the Big 12 can flourish in the environment they set up. I’m excited about the flexibility gained by this new agreement and the enhancement of rights.”

ESPN will continue to be the primary rights holder of Big 12 men’s basketball, including the conference tournament. Magnus said ESPN will also televise a minimum of 31 Big 12 women’s regular season basketball games in addition to televising NCAA tournament games.

“We’ve been trying to do more women’s basketball games in the regular season,” Magnus said. “The Big 12 is a great story especially with Baylor being the defending national champion. We want to keep the interest growing.”

Bowlsby said the 10 Big 12 schools like the current format of the league and have no plans for expansion. However, Bowlsby didn’t completely discount expansion down the road.

“We have no intentions to expand at this time, but we’re not oblivious to it going forward,” Bowlsby said. “We’ll continue to talk about expansion. But we’ve got a lot going for us, and we’ll be slow to share it unless somebody brings a lot of cache.”

 

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For Trestan Ebner and the Baylor seniors, beating Texas Tech meant everything as they finished the season 7-0 at McLane Stadium. “Wins are hard to come by, so I’m just thankful for this no matter what the score is,” Ebner said. “If we didn’t win this, it would have hurt. Hurt a lot.”

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