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Volume 26 No. 22
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Big 12 Extracts More Money From ESPN With Expansion Threat, Even As Fox Digs Heels In

Amid possible Big 12 expansion, ESPN "opted to restructure its deal, agreeing to pay the conference more money," while Fox "decided to stand pat," according to Smith & Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The result is that the Big 12 will "see a little more money from ESPN" -- about $10M total over the final eight years of the contract -- "in exchange for removing what the two sides are calling the 'pro rata' clause." That clause "forces the networks to pay a higher rights fee (a set amount per school) if the Big 12 expands." The pro rata clause "remains in the Fox contract, meaning that if the Big 12 expands in the future Fox will owe the league more money based on the number of schools added." But under the current terms, Fox is "not paying the league any additional money like ESPN did." ESPN’s media-rights costs now are "set for the deal," which originally was worth $2.6B over 13 years. Separate from the expansion issue, the conference will realize about $240M in "additional revenue over the final eight years of its media deals, thanks to a new rights fee from the conference’s football championship" that starts in '17 (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/24 issue). 

WASTED ON THE WAY? Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby on Saturday said none of the schools the conference considered for expansion before opting to remain at 10 teams "thought it had been a waste of time." Bowlsby: "They thought they were treated respectfully, and that was certainly my aspiration. I wanted to keep them informed. I wanted to feel like they had the opportunity to put their best foot forward." He added, "I guess you wouldn't call them joyous conversations, but everyone was complimentary in the manner in which they were treated" (ESPN.com, 10/22). In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes it is "time for the flaws of the Big 12 to be broadcast." It is "time for a system that allowed the Big 12 to run its tawdry beauty pageant without repercussion beyond a level of public ridicule to come under scrutiny." Time and time again, the Power Five have "dangled the carrot and set the other schools against each other." With the Big 12 "calling off its expansion, now is the time to systematically unite before the grants of rights these Power conferences operate under expire in the middle part of the next decade" (HARTFORD COURANT, 10/24).

AMERICAN DREAM: AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said of whether the conference's ESPN deal can be renegotiated, "It can be if ESPN is willing to sit down with us. We are going to meet within the next two or three weeks to talk. ESPN has been great to us. ... The TV landscape is complex, it really is. We want to do something with ESPN and we think that they recognize our value. We are far more valuable than we were 3 1/2 years ago. It is not even close." He said of the Big 12 considering expansion, "The truth is that it really gave us the publicity and attention. A lot of it was good because our schools are good schools that played well." He said of the conference's place relative to the Power Five, "We have to be the next JetBlue or Southwest. We want to be a major carrier but we know we aren't Delta. We have to be realistic" (TAMPABAY.com, 10/23).