As the Pac-12 and Big 12 try to move forward in the ever-changing college football landscape, the Big 12 made a move on Wednesday that will surely put it in direct competition with the Pac-12 in media rights negotiations.
ESPN’s Pete Thamel first reported, and the Big 12 later officially announced, that it will begin discussions with its media partners (Thamel identified Fox and ESPN) on a new media rights deal even though its current deal doesn’t expire until 2025.
“It is an exciting time for college athletics and 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,” Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said in a statement.
“The Big 12 has enjoyed a fantastic relationship with its multimedia rights holders, and I look forward to having these conversations.”
What does this have to do with the Pac-12?
The Pac-12’s media rights deal expires in 2023, and the conference has been negotiating a new deal this summer with various media outlets. The Pac-12 had an advantage over the Big 12 in going to market first, but the Big 12 is surely trying to negate that with Wednesday’s announcement.
Both Thamel and Action Network’s Brett McMurphy noted how, by starting negotiations early, the Big 12 can be in better position to give any potential new conference members more concrete data about what the conference’s media deal could look like in the years to come.
“This is an incredibly smart move of the Big 12 to go a year early,” McMurphy quoted an industry source as saying on Wednesday. “Especially with the uncertainty of conference realignment — specifically how more Big Ten expansion would impact the Pac-12.”
Thamel wrote, “Before the Big 12 planning talks, the Pac-12’s advantage in the television landscape had been that the conference could give tangible numbers to its member schools and any potential additions.
“With the Big 12 having three years remaining on its deal, the prevailing thought had been that the conference could give only projected numbers, which would present a risk for any school considering joining the league.”