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Big 12 to enter into early negotiations with TV partners FOX, ESPN

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The Big 12 Conference has agreed to engage in discussions with its primary television partners, ESPN and FOX, more than 18 months earlier than expected, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Pete Thamel.

Shortly after Thamel's report surfaced Wednesday morning, the Big 12 Conference confirmed its position through a statement from first-year commissioner Brett Yormark.

“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,” Yormark said in the statement. “The Big 12 has enjoyed a fantastic relationship with its multi-media rights holders, and I look forward to having these conversations.”

Officially, the conference said the Big 12 "will be entering into discussions with its multi-media partners to explore an accelerated extension of its current agreements."

Later in the day, Jon Wilner, who covers the Pac-12, reported that ESPN provided a statement telling him, “We regularly engage in conversation around the future with all of our partners, but to be clear, we have not opened the contractual negotiation window with the Big 12 at this time.”

The confusion there is likely a matter of semantics, with the Big 12 saying it "will be" entering into discussions with its television partners and ESPN saying the contractual negotiation window had not opened.

Both statements can be true and the two parties can still be moving forward into a period of discussion about the contracts.

The news is significant because it puts the Big 12 on equal ground with the Pac-12, which also is negotiating a new deal with the two television networks.

That, it would seem, negates whatever perceived advantage the Pac-12 had in terms of conference realignment and potential expansion. And it could open the door to the Big 12 being in a stronger position to entice potential additions should the league look to expand beyond the 12 members that will be in the Big 12 after the departure of Oklahoma and Texas and the arrival of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF.

Both conferences have been active in projecting future revenue from their TV deals. But until this news, only the Pac-12 was in a position to present real data to its current members and potential new members.

Now, with the Big 12 opening that door, both conferences may be able to show actual numbers to their own members and any other schools that may be interested in joining.

While survival is an important objective of both conferences, the race really appears to be about positioning for the third slot among college football’s power conferences. The Big Ten and SEC have the top two spots locked up — and neither can be touched — and the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC are battling to be No. 3.

Landing in the bronze medal position will not only be financially beneficial, but it also will present a significant amount of stability.

Yormark said during his introduction in July that the conference would be proactive and aggressive in its approach to all things, including potential expansion, and this news is certainly an indication of Yormark’s ability to put action behind those words.

None of this means the Big 12 is definitely expanding, of course. But many who cover and follow realignment have speculated that the Big 12 may be in a better position than the Pac-12 when it comes to projecting long-range television dollars for its new media rights deals. We may soon see if that was accurate.

The Big 12’s current TV deals expire after the 2024 football season and the negotiations were expected to begin in February of 2024.

Now, with the negotiation window open early, the conference essentially has two chances to strike the best deal possible, both for current members and potentially to entice new schools to join. The first could happen any time and could be a long-term deal or a short-term extension to buy some more time. The second opportunity would come in 2024 if the upcoming talks do not lead to anything that both sides like.

The most popular expansion chatter tied to the Big 12 has included Pac-12 schools Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah. Reports about the interest, or lack thereof, regarding all four schools have been all over the map, but there are obvious reasons that all four would make sense for the Big 12. Most notable is the addition of BYU and how adding those four along with BYU would give the Big 12 a stronger footprint out west.

If that foursome, or even just one or two of them, were to be invited to the Big 12 and elect to join, it could be a significant blow to the Pac-12’s future as a power conference.

The race has been under way for a while now, but it appears as if the two conferences have passed the settling in point and are actually starting to run.

Stay tuned…

Comments

Bville Hawk 4 weeks ago

It would seem to uninitiated me that the Big 12 has an advantage over both the ACC and the Pac 12 because of location. The Big 12 can broadcast games all day long without having to start at 9am local time or end after midnight local time.

Rodney Crain 4 weeks ago

Nope.

The ACC has Huge media markets (almost all of the East Coast), the P12 does too out west still. Our new teams for the most part have better media markets than Iowa, Kansas, Baylor, Ok. St, TTech, and WV.

Broadcasting all day, without their own streaming B12 network, (ACC and P12 do) is a mistake. There are very few eyes watching College Football/Basketball before 11am ct and after 10pm ct. Ask the P12. Those time slots will only draw the unhappy fans for those teams who have to get up or stay up. They would lose in market share to ESPN College gameday (ESPN is never going to allow early games btw. They want every eye on gameday Sat. morning) and SNL in season which is the fall and late winter. USC and UCLA have enough draw to make early or late game works, but this going to upset those on the East Coast.

They are looking to spread that debt for those contracts. It is very complex and takes an understanding on the math that makes it work. Yoo Mark comes from being the hammer, a position of strength in his career. Does he know how to present our conference from being the 4th or 5th market position? There is very little evidence he can.

We need 2 miracles, 1st. that he does not mess this up. 2nd that somehow our leadership figure a way to fund a domed, multipurpose, reasonable sized football stadium. (Sorry too much Top Gun Maverick)

If we build a domed stadium, My team can see Lawrence stealing some shows that play KC. 25+ dates plus the Football games is possible. Rodeo's, motocross, concerts, there is a lot possible. Domed allows protected shows/events, and less noise spilling out from a location that is in a city. Not to mention controlling the heat/cold. It sets us apart from many schools too.

Dirk Medema 4 weeks ago

Bville - I’m recalling a comment from the B1G along those lines when they added usc and ucla. They plan to broadcast their games a day long. Guessing it will be scheduled so that one of those two will be home each weekend. It will stink for Rutgers, Maryland, psu fans to have a game finish really late (9 pm left coast = midnight on the east coast), but they will have B1G football all day long. Even the sec can’t offer that.

Bville Hawk 4 weeks ago

Yep, Dirk, exactly the same with the Big 12 having lesser "name power."

Dirk Medema 4 weeks ago

It will be interesting to see what the PAC12 is offered. They were behind even with usc/ucla. In some ways it’s not different than the Big12 losing ou/ut except that we had/have expansion options. Is there a serious expansion option for the PAC12 besides George’s delusion about poaching Big12 schools to his sinking ship?

Bville Hawk 4 weeks ago

The Pac 12 doesn't appear to have a lot of options. Maybe a loose arrangement with the ACC???

Rodney Crain 4 weeks ago

Yooooo Mark hold on buddy. There is no reason to blindly, and he is blindly rushing in, when you barely know what you are doing. This fool is going to do something that makes him looks like a simpleton. It will be public or private but he will make mistakes and we all will pay for them, literally.

8.31.2022 - first mistake.

Bville Hawk 4 weeks ago

Brett Yormark??? I get it, you were trying to be cute...

Brian Skelly 4 weeks ago

The problem for the Pac 10 is it's already been made public that Oregon has been talking with the Big 10. So this year, next year, or sometime soon... odds are they're going to the Big 10 with some other team(s) in tow.

Between those teams, and the "Four Corners" schools almost assuredly ready to jump to the Big 12 when things get shakier out west it's simply going to be hard to convince the networks to throw a bunch of cash at the Pac 10... which maybe the Pac 2 at some point.

Also, don't discount the whole Fox vs. ESPN thing. That plays into this as well.

My guess is if ESPN / Fox / and whomever else throws a decent number at the Big 12 -- it'll still be a better number than the Pac 10s -- and it's going to incentivize the Four Corners schools to move.

Once the Pac 10 lost Los Angeles, they lost what leverage they have had TV wise.

Rodney Crain 4 weeks ago

espn has kansas ranked as the 19th worst football program.

Brad Watson 3 weeks, 6 days ago

In the end ...I see 5 leagues..SEC,ACC,B1G,BIG12,PAC12.... all survive the realignment tsunami ...all with 16 teams each...all with nice TV contracts......I see the playoff expanding to 16 teams....5 automatic bids going to the conference champions and 11 at large berths...which would mean Notre Dame and 10 others....all of this by around 2025...what teams are in each league will be the only question.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 6 days ago

It’s easy to see someone looking like a simpleton as this all develops. Brett seems to have a better record and handling of the current situation than some others.

There was also an article when the PAC12 chaos began about the possibility of working with the domers and nbc to be relevant throughout the day. Maybe more outside the box than normal but that also seems consistent with Brett. I’m personally very okay with that.

Rodney Crain 3 weeks, 6 days ago

He has no experience, and rather than size up the elements he needs to be sharp on, he accelerates the process. It is a mistake.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Bville - I did read an article just today about 5 options for the PAC12. I don’t remember the site. Maybe I can remember the schools.

  1. SDSU

  2. Fresno State

  3. Boise State

  4. SMU

  5. Houston

I think the article commented on all these schools previously being rejected by the PAC12 because they weren’t research schools or some other non-football related criteria.

Brett McCabe 3 weeks, 6 days ago

So much for creativity. So Yormark's first move is to say to the PAC 12, "well, if you are going to do that, then we are going to do that too. So there!" FOX, where all evil in America starts, is the worst sports station on television. Cable is withering a little more each and every day. The Big 10 already beat us to the three legitimate broadcast tv networks, why don't we do something that actually changes the game?

There is a little company out in California named Apple, you may have heard of them, they have a streaming service and carry Friday night mlb. Why not partner with them? Get some serious money and actually make it easier for fans to watch the games? To watch KU now, I have to subscribe to cable (which I won't do), subscribe to ESPN+ (which I won't do) and watch FOX and their election-liar commercials. For way, way less money, I could subscribe to Apple TV (which I already do), pay an up-charge for the Big 12 package, and get everything from the Big12. Which I'd gladly do. Would $20 a month times how many millions of subscribers cover the contract? I think probably so.

Or are we just gonna keep doing the same stupid things that we've been doing and that have left us twisting in the wind over and over and over? If you keep doing what you are doing, you'll keep getting what you are getting. Yormark's first move looks pretty weak and unimaginative. Strike one.

Brad Watson 3 weeks, 6 days ago

As far as this last TV negotiation...it has a lot to do with Texas And Oklahoma wanting to move to the SEC early....so Yormark can use that as a bargaining chip with both Fox and ESPN...how he uses it ?...That I do not know....but Yormark is a wizard in the conference room...it would not surprise me that in the end CBS and NBC are also involved along with Amazon and Hulu etc..he will turn over every rock to find money and try to add schools that have and add value...he is not just looking west...Texas am Arkansas Missouri Nebraska all seem unhappy in their leagues...if the money is right...anything is possible in this current weather pattern.He is having hypothetical discussions...if we add these teams what would the value be....if we added this other set of schools what would the value be...etc.then he has a number to go and negotiate with the schools he wants to bring in...it's a long back and forth process that takes years sometimes...next summer he will know a lot more after a few rounds of talks.

Brad Watson 3 weeks, 6 days ago

And it also would not surprise me if he(Yormark) approached Texas and Oklahoma to point out that in the SEC...they will be nobodies and will never be truly accepted there ...and in the Big 12 they are somebody and that's the reality...some contracts will have to be voided...but that's why you have law firms on retainer...in this crazy new world of college sports.. Do you really want to be in SEC?...that should be his question to those schools! If he sells it right...the answer will be an obvious NO!!

Pamela Shanks 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Agree with your description of what hypothetical discussions look like and the time + back and forth discussions that likely will be very quiet. However, in regards to Texas and OU, $$$$ rule or they wouldn't have considered moving in the first place. Besides, laughing as they sink down to MU's ranking will be a nice diversion. And NO MORE listening to the one song the OU band can play, Boomer Sooner, will exponentially increase enjoyment for all fans.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Brett - Good point about Apple. I have made similar choices regarding cable, though fox doesn’t bother me. I regularly mute all the commercials.

I would suggest to you, and in general, that we undoubtedly know a speck of what Yormark is doing. This is just the info they chose to release. During the original press conference, something that stuck out to me was his comment about a multimedia deal and not a tv deal. I think Matt was the person that suggested it implies things like Apple, peacock, or other streaming services. The fact that we don’t know about it doesn’t mean that he’s not working on it.

Maybe he wants to have talks so that he can consider what effect an option like Apple would have on the tv$?

While Yormark is obviously in his first year leading a college conference, he does have fabulous experience growing other entities. My recollection from the articles first introducing him was that he was creative in his approach. I’m going to expect that is still who he is, and why he was hired until we know otherwise. In my opinion, one piece of news lint doesn’t equate to knowing otherwise.

Rodney Crain 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Yo Marker's success is representing strong entities to willing buyers. You do not have to be creative to do that. You have to know when you have got all the money you could get before they push back from the table.

Why did he leave? Well after angering communities, and the teams with his abrasive and often controversial leadership in Brooklyn, the new owner was going to replace him. Ask the New Jersey/Brooklyn Devils, or check out the Atlantic Yards development fiasco.

He ruled, yes ruled his way with an iron fist with no concern for fans, teams, nor even ownership. So in my opinion at 52+ he is not going to change. You're big mistake with him is thinking he works for the schools, he does not. You either bend to his will, his vision or else.

The wolf is in the hen house. Do it his way or else. It is the only way he knows. He is now on the other side of the table, and the mouse across from him is very aware of who is holding all the cards now. Trust me, they know exactly who he is, they saw what he did to an NHL team, it's fans. His antics will go nowhere, he will get either angry or leave and we will be picking up the pieces.

Apple uses ready made content for their channel. They do not have a sports entity to push a conference. Apple ranks 10th of all streaming services as of 8.23.2022.

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