The Big 12 collegiate athletic conference, reeling a year ago after the stunning departures of tentpole members Oklahoma and Texas, has stabilized itself with the signing of a new six-year, $2.28 billion TV rights extension with ESPN and Fox Sports.
The agreement, negotiated two years before the expiration of the current arrangement, delivers a robust 73% annual increase in TV revenue to $360 million -- a valuable enticement for member schools at a time of fluid loyalty among collegiate athletic conferences.
ESPN will receive the lions share of rights, picking 12 of the top 20 most coveted football games each season. ESPN will also have rights to the Big 12 football championship game, as well as the conference's championship tournament in mens' basketball.
Fox will show 26 Big 12 games each season across Fox broadcast network and FS1.
The Big 12 will add BYU, Houston, the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Cincinnati next year, reinvigorating its value with key members following the departures of Oklahoma and Texas.
The Big 12's decision to negotiate with its incumbent partners differed from the strategy being deployed by the also-embattled Pac-12 Conference. The Pac-12, which just lost tentpole members USC and UCLA to the Big Ten, could enjoy an open bidding war for its next rights deal, with ESPN and Fox competing with Apple and Amazon.
However, as it looks to stabilize and rebuild its own constituency, the Pac-12 will not be able to approach member and potential member schools with the same kind of financial security that the Big 12 can right now.
Meanwhile, don't let it be said that Disney and ESPN will be cowed by accelerated cord-cutting and a down advertising market. The Big 12 deal represents the second major sports rights agreement for ESPN in the last two weeks, with the Worldwide Leader just announcing a new pact with Formula 1 racing. ■
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!