SBD/March 15, 2011/Media

Big 12, Fox Near Extension Of Cable Deal For More Than $60M Annually

Fox considering launching channel that would feature eight schools' teams
The Big 12 is "nearing a cable agreement with Fox that will more than triple the conference's revenue over its current contract," according to Smith & Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Sources said that the two sides are "close to finalizing a long-term deal that will pay the 10-team league more than $60 million a year, well up from the $20 million it now receives from its cable contract." The conference also has a "network broadcast contract with ABC/ESPN worth $480 million over eight years" through '15-16. It was "first thought that the Big 12 would extend its cable agreement to 2016 to make it concurrent with the ABC/ESPN contract," but sources said that the Fox extension "will go beyond 2016 and could go out as long as 10 years, to 2022." Meanwhile, Fox "has been in discussions with eight of the league's schools about establishing a conference-specific channel for a handful of football games, up to 60 basketball games and Olympic sports." The channel "would not include programming from the University of Texas, which has partnered with ESPN on a new Longhorns channel, or the University of Oklahoma, which is planning its own channel, as well." Sources said that Fox' cable deal with the conference and the potential channel are "separate conversations." Talks for the potential channel "have centered on having Fox flip one of its three Fox College Sports national channels, which are carried on cable sports tiers," though "whether the channel could be called the Big 12 Network remains to be seen because only eight of the 10 schools in the conference would be participating." Smith & Ourand note while a new channel "would significantly boost exposure and potentially aid recruiting for the eight schools, it is not expected to provide a financial windfall" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/14 issue). The $60M figure was initially discussed last summer, when conference officials were trying to hold the Big 12 together amid conference realignment talk, but subsequent negotiations have pushed the numbers well above $60M a year (Smith).
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