Big 12 News

Big 12 Has Had ‘Meaningful’ Conversations on New TV Contract with FOX, ESPN: Report

On Wednesday, Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark made some headlines with his comments concerning discussions that the conference has had with television partners ESPN and FOX.

According to Yormark, the conference has has “meaningful conversations” with both ESPN and FOX as the Big 12 tries to strike a new media rights deal nearly two years ahead of their current contract expiring.

“So (the conference) is not a free agent,” Yormark told AP on Wednesday. “I can’t go out there and talk to an Amazon or an Apple or CBS. But in a world that’s changing, why don’t we explore an early conversation which could, maybe, lead to a negotiation? And I can tell you that we’ve had meaningful conversations for the last three-plus weeks, and we’ll see where they go.”

 

The Big 12 announced in August that it was going to open negotiations with ESPN and FOX early amid the talks of conference realignment. The Big 12’s exclusive negotiating window with its television partners does not open until February of 2024, with its current deal set to expire in June of the same year.

“There’s no timetable,” Yormark said. “If we can’t get to a deal, then the fallback is 16 months from now. But I’m a big fan of ESPN. I’m a big fan of Fox. We’re at a point right now where it’s important to elevate and amplify our brand. And I think they’re the two best partners to do it.”

 

The Big 12 is in a transitional period right now as it prepares to take on four new universities in 2023 with Cincinnati, Houston, BYU, and UCF all prepared to make the Power Five jump. Then, in 2025 at the latest, Oklahoma and Texas, original members of the Big 12, will move to the SEC.

Getting a deal struck with television partners like FOX and ESPN is a great way for the Big 12 to not only protect its current and future members but also a perfect avenue by which to entice members from the Pac-12 to join up if further expansion from the Big Ten does in fact happen.

“The strategy was clarity and stability as we’re looking to grow this conference in every respect,” Yormark said. “Obviously, it has to be the right economic deal, but it’s not just about economics. It’s also about the partnership, and what it can do for our business and our brand and the profile of our schools, which is critically important to me.”

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