Big 12, ESPN near TV rights extension

The Big 12 is on the verge of a blockbuster TV contract that will put its media revenue among the top tier of college conferences, despite losing several marquee programs in the last two years.

The Big 12 and ESPN are nearing an extension that will earn the conference — combined with its Fox TV contract — $2.5 billion over the next 13 years, according to industry sources. The ESPN extension would run through 2025 and sync up with Fox’s deal.

By network, the Big 12 stands to make $1.3 billion from ESPN and $1.2 billion from Fox over the life of the two deals. ESPN’s old contract with the Big 12 ran through 2016, but the two sides are close on a nine-year extension that will increase the conference’s average revenue from its current $150 million a year to nearly $200 million annually. Each Big 12 school will make roughly $5 million more a year in the new contract over the old deal.

“We have an existing agreement with the Big 12 that has four years remaining,” said Mike Soltys, ESPN vice president of communications. “We are in regular conversations with all our partners about future opportunities. There’s nothing beyond that.”

The Big 12’s potential revenue windfall comes on the heels of mass upheaval for the conference, which has lost Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, while adding Texas Christian from the Mountain West and West Virginia from the Big East to stay at 10 teams. Additionally, the new media revenue could effectively end any discussion of the Big 12 expanding back to 12 teams, not the news that the University of Louisville wanted to hear. The Cardinals had been positioned as a strong candidate to join the Big 12 if it expanded.

Under the new terms, each Big 12 school will average just under $20 million a year. Schools in the Pac-12, which also partnered with ESPN and Fox to generate its record $3 billion deal over 12 years, will average nearly $21 million per school.

It remains to be seen how the Big 12’s new contract will affect the ongoing negotiations between ESPN and two other league partners, the SEC and the ACC. Both conferences expanded to 14 schools, which makes them eligible to negotiate new terms.

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