After years of hubub surrounding conference realignment, particularly when talking about the Big 12 Conference, the renegotiation of television broadcasting rights has effectively squelched this topic and left the conference looking strong for over a decade. The Big 12 announced new media rights agreements with ESPN and FOX, who will share over-the-air and cable television rights for the forseeable future. The 13-year deal with ESPN now runs through the 2024-25 season.
"The Big 12 will generate per member television revenue at the highest level of college athletics, while increasing exposure for our programs, and continuing to provide for comprehensive institutional rights," commented Oklahoma State University president and Big 12 Conference board of directors chairman Burns Hargis, in a release yesterday.
The focus of the agreement is pretty firmly entrenched in the sport of football, where FOX and ESPN will team up to broadcast every Big 12 home football game, beginning this season. Men's basketball broadcast rights are still owned by ESPN, with the network televising upwards of 100 games per season across their family of channels. But other sports will also reap the rewards of the new deal, women's basketball included.
FOX Sports Media Group will carry a minimum of 40 non-football events a year as well as championship events other than men's basketball across their platform. A minimum of 31 women's basketball games each season will be shown across a combination of ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and FSMG. Also, ESPN will also retain the rights to up to 25 additional contests in women's basketball and/or other sports.
Therefore, even at the minimum approximately 10 percent of all Big 12 women's games will be televised under these contractual obligation, with the potential to go up to nearly 20 percent. There are currently two conference games on the ESPN Big Monday docket in 2013 that have already been announced, both involving Baylor - playing at Connecticut (Feb. 18 - Play 4 Kay game) and at Oklahoma (Feb. 25).
Last year, the Baylor Lady Bears were seen on ESPN channels for five regular season games and FSN on six occasions to lead the conference. Five conference teams - Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas - did not appear on the ESPN family of networks during the regular season. The Big 12 is coming off a sweep as post-season tournament winners, with Baylor taking the NCAA title and OSU earning its first WNIT championship. The conference led the nation with 70 percent of its teams gaining entry into the NCAA tournament field and nine of 10 members playing post-season basketball. The Big 12, which has won the last two NCAA National Championships, also led the nation in overall attendance for their 12th consecutive season.