Big 12, Commissioner Bowlsby Pleased With ESPN+ Deal Thus Far
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said that the conference has been "happy with its new partnership" with ESPN+ thus far, according to Travis Hines of the AMES TRIBUNE. Bowlsby said viewership "has been really good," and the "quality of the broadcast has been good, although we had a couple of issues during the football season where we had disruptions due to weather." Bowlsby also said the conference is "on the right side of technology." Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard also said the deal "positions us really well for when the (media rights) contracts all come up in 2024-25 because we'll have already established something, and it'll be easier to try to monetize something that's established versus trying to monetize something that has just potential." Meanwhile, Hines notes the "always-anticipated" men's basketball matchup between Iowa State and Kansas tonight will "not be available through over-the-air or cable television, but only" through ESPN+. Pollard said, "We're sending out a communication to all our fans giving them the heads up so no one gets surprised going to their game watch and they don't have it." Pollard added, "My guess is two years from now, this will seem like it's not a big deal, but that transition, there's going to be somebody that sits down Wednesday night and can't get it. And they're going to freak out, so we're trying to at least educate people about it" (AMES TRIBUNE, 1/8).
CHANGING TIMES: In West Virginia, Chuck Landon wrote the decision not to air West Virginia-Kansas on linear TV last Saturday in favor of streaming it on ESPN+ was an "ill-conceived idea." On the decision's effects on the fan base, West Virginia men's basketball coach Bob Huggins said, "We may be the school that our fans have the hardest time (with the streaming service) to be able to have the technology or whatever it is to watch the game." Landon noted there "probably were a lot of Mountaineer fans who weren't able to watch" that game, and "that's a shame." Landon: "What's a bigger shame, however, is I don't believe Big 12 officials even care" (Huntington HERALD-DISPATCH, 1/7).