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What Big 12’s new TV deal means for BYU, the new-look conference and Pac-12 negotiations

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Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark speaks during a news conference opening the NCAA college football Big 12 media days in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark speaks during a news conference opening the NCAA college football Big 12 media days in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

LM Otero, Associated Press

There’s a new TV deal in place for the Big 12 well before its current media rights contract expires in 2025, as Sports Business Journal first reported on Sunday.

The Power Five conference has come to terms on extending its current contract with ESPN and Fox Sports on a six-year media rights agreement worth nearly $2.3 billion — at an annual average of $380 million, SBJ reported.

The new deal — which runs through the 2030-31 season — will take effect after the Big 12’s current media rights agreement expires at the end of the 2024-25 season.

It’s a significant move for a league that will be losing powerhouse programs Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, a move that’s currently expected to happen in 2025. The Big 12 will welcome four new members next year in BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF.

What are the details behind the Big 12’s new media rights contract?

Each of the Big 12’s 10 schools currently take home $42 million per year each in revenue from a combination of their media rights deal, the College Football Playoff and NCAA revenue, per Action Network’s Brett McMurphy.

Once Oklahoma and Texas leave, that will leave the Big 12 with 12 schools, and each of the 12 schools would receive $31.6 million per year from the new media rights agreement.

That doesn’t factor in CFP and NCAA revenue — CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported that new-look Big 12 teams could expect to make more than $50 million in revenue from rights fees and CFP and NCAA Tournament payouts after the CFP expands to 12 teams as expected.

“In striking these deals prior to the exclusive negotiating window with ESPN and Fox, the Big 12 managed to achieve several of its primary objectives, namely stability and security, the ability to go back to its 12 member schools to seek an extended grant of rights and a leg up on any future conference expansion,” Sports Business Journal’s Michael Smith and John Ourand wrote. 

“The conference also likes the idea that the shorter six-year deal that runs through 2031 means that the Big 12 will be back in the market ahead of both the SEC, whose deal with ESPN goes through 2034, and the ACC, whose ESPN deal expires in 2036.”

Could the Big 12 expand further, even with the new media rights agreement?

Both The Athletic and Sports Illustrated reported that the new media rights agreement is expected to include a pro rata clause.

“A pro rata clause is expected to be included in the Big 12’s extension with its network partners, multiple conference sources said, which would aid the conference if it pursues additional members,” The Athletic’s Max Olson and Matt Fortuna wrote. 

“(Big 12 commissioner Brett) Yormark said in July the Big 12 is “open for business” and exploring its expansion opportunities. The Athletic previously reported that the league has talked with six Pac-12 schools: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington.”

How could the Big 12’s new TV deal impact Pac-12 negotiations?

The current media rights agreement for the Pac-12 Conference, which will be losing USC and UCLA to the Big Ten in 2024, runs through 2024.

The Big 12 followed the Pac-12’s lead earlier this year and opened negotiations for a media rights deal earlier than expected, as conversations about college realignment dominated the headlines in the wake of the news of USC and UCLA’s eventual departure.

How might the Big 12’s agreement impact the Pac-12?

“The near-completion of the deal will shift the focus to the Pac-12, which reports have linked to Amazon as a potential partner,” ESPN’s Pete Thamel wrote

“With Fox having access to USC and UCLA games via the Big Ten deal, it had been only loosely linked to the Pac-12. ESPN’s interest level in the league in the wake of this commitment will be closely watched.”

Jon Wilner of The Mercury News reported that the Pac-12’s current media rights deal with ESPN and Fox pays an average of $20.8 million over its 12-year agreement.

With Big 12 schools projected to make $31.6 million in media rights deals with the new contract, that would be a difference of $10.8 million between the two Power Five conferences — to equal the Big 12, the Pac-12 would need a 51.9% increase, per Wilner.

“It sets the market for the Pac 12,” The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel wrote. “No reason they won’t get as much or more. But it will likely include Amazon or Apple.”

Pac-12 insider John Canzano reported that original projections for the Pac-12’s next media rights agreement would pay $27 million to $29 million to the 10 remaining members, including Utah, “but that was before Amazon and Apple waded into the fray” with their potential streaming options. 

“Amazon and Apple want to be in the college live-sports programming space but neither has the infrastructure to produce games. Amazon uses the NFL Network for the Thursday Night Football production. The Pac-12 Networks already handles production of 36 football games,” Canzano wrote.

“Maybe we should wait to see what happens, but it feels like the Pac-12 could land somewhere in the neighborhood of $32-34 million per school.”