Big 12, Fox TV deal gets even sweeter?

March, 17, 2011
3/17/11
10:00
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Earlier this week, the Sports Business Journal reported that the Big 12's television deal with Fox would go from $19.5 million annually to somewhere between $60-70 million annually.

Now, sources indicated to the publication that the deal could be worth $90 million annually, a 13-year deal worth $1.1 billion total. A reporter from Bloomberg television tweeted the same thing on Wednesday afternoon, citing a person familiar with the negotiations.

That's a 350 percent raise in television revenue, and that growth looks even better when you consider that the money would be divisible between 10 schools, rather than 12 after the exits of Nebraska and Colorado.

We'll see once the negotiations finish and the deal is officially signed, but Fox is making one thing clear: It's serious about Big 12 football.

The deal would be for second-tier rights, which encompass football and basketball games each year that are not selected for broadcast by ESPN and ABC. ESPN and ABC owns the league's first-tier rights through 2015-16, and pay approximately $60 million each year as part of an eight-year deal.

Commissioner Dan Beebe has previously expressed a desire to align the contracts to end at the same time, but if Fox is offering that much money over that long a period, it's not hard to see why he's apparently softened his stance on the issue.

The league is also exploring a network with eight teams other than Oklahoma and Texas to help monetize the league's third-tier media rights.

The numbers were already close to satisfying the Big 12's promise that Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas would earn $20 million when we examined them as a part of the original terms, but there's no doubt it would be met if this billion-dollar deal ends up being signed.

Don't expect anyone from the Big 12 or Fox to comment on it before it is finalized, but once you add in conference revenue from postseason play in basketball and football, the Big 12 could become a significantly happier and more stable league.

Money off the field for the league is a lot like wins for individual teams: neither fixes everything, but plenty of problems go away.

If this still-being-negotiated deal becomes a reality, we'll see that come into play very quickly.

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