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Big 12 Reaches New 13-Year, $2.6 Billion TV Deal With ESPN, Fox Sports

The Big 12 has a new 13-year TV rights deal with both ESPN and Fox Sports that will generate per-member television revenue at the highest level of college athletics, according to conference officials.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby

The Big 12 Conference has announced the long-anticipated new media deal with ESPN and Fox Sports Media Group that extends and expands the television rights agreement the league has with the two media organizations.

The new broadcast deal, approved by the Big 12 board of directors, is estimated to be worth an estimated $2.6 billion and runs for 13 years, through the 2024-25 season. The new agreement extends the current eight-year agreement with ESPN, which was scheduled to run through 2015-16. The new deal between the Big 12 and ESPN now runs concurrently with the previous 13-year agreement reached last spring with Fox.

The new media agreement will result in an annual payout to each of the 10 Big 12 schools of an estimated $20 million.

"The stability of the Big 12 Conference is cemented," said newly appointed Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. "We are positioned with one of the best media rights arrangements in collegiate sports, providing the conference and its members unprecedented growth and sports programming over the networks."

According to the terms of the new agreement with television sports' two highest-profile networks, beginning this season, every Big 12 home football game will be carried on a combination of ESPN, Fox or institutional platforms. Fox receives what the agreement terms "enhanced" selection rights through 2015. The two networks will rotate selections beginning in 2016.

Regarding the stability issue, the new contract binds the 10 Big 12 schools together over the length of the contract through a grant of rights. In more simple terms, this means that if a member school wants to leave the conference, that school will lose its TV rights, which will remain with the Big 12.

"I think many were concerned that we were going to come off the rails again at some point in time," Bowlsby said. "I think this demonstrates that that's not going to happen. We're going to be partners for a long, long time."

The new ESPN/Fox deal "fortifies third-tier rights that our institutions are either able to retain and use themselves or sell to a broadcast partner," the commissioner said.

For example, Texas sold its third-tier rights to ESPN and subsequently launched the Longhorn Network. There has also been a lot of talk over the last year regarding Oklahoma's intent to launch its own sports network, which the school reportedly would call "Sooner Sports TV." OU school officials announced last spring that it would distribute its new sports network through Fox Sports regional outlets and that discussions with the network were continuing.

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