New Big 12 Digital Deal To Change Some Of WVU’s TV Package
ESPN and the Big 12 Conference announced a new agreement that will significantly expanded their existing rights contract, which runs through the 2024-25 season.
It will also change the distribution for the Tier 3 programming for eight of the Big 12’s 10 schools, including West Virginia University.
The new agreement will, according to Business Sports Journal, reportedly add another $40 million to the league’s media contract, which has six years remaining and currently pays the Big 12 a total of nearly $220 million per year.
ESPN/ABC now will be sole carrier for the Big 12 Championship Football game through 2024. Originally FOX was going to televise the game in 2019, 2021 and 2023, but that network recently backed out of its deal to broadcast the title game. ESPN/ABC already was signed to televise the championship game in the even years, and now it will have exclusive rights for the next six years.
This new media rights deal will also establish a Big 12-branded area within the ESPN+ subscription streaming service. Hundreds of Big 12 events, including exclusive football and basketball games, as well as multiple other sports, conference championships and original content, will now be carried by ESPN+.
According to WVU officials, as part of this new agreement, live Mountaineer events that previously were televised on local platforms, like AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh or various in-state channels, will now be shown exclusively on ESPN+.
Certainly this will be a change for both in-market and out-of-market viewers. Those in the market will now have to subscribe to ESPN+ if they wish to view games that previously were carried by AT&T SportsNet. At the same time, it will also enhance the viewing opportunities for those out of the market to watch games through the streaming service. Currently the subscription cost for ESPN+ is $4.99 a month.
In recent years, one Mountaineer non-conference football game per season and a half dozen or so men’s basketball games were televised on AT&T SportsNet. Now those games will be carried by ESPN+ when West Virginia’s part of the new contract begins with the start of the 2020-21 season.
Due to existing long-term rights agreements, Texas (the Longhorn Network, which is through ESPN) and Oklahoma (SoonerSports, which is through FOX Sports) will not produce or deliver programming included on ESPN+ at this time, though each can be featured when they are the road teams in games listed under the new Big 12-branded offering on the service.
The conference’s other eight schools will produce and deliver multiple sports under the new Big 12-branded platform on ESPN+, with schools joining on a rolling basis. Starting in 2019, there will be games from Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State, in addition to the select Big 12 Conference championship events. In 2020-21, Iowa State, TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech will join the lineup.
Each participating Big 12 school now is assigning its available rights to ESPN and will each deliver more than 50 exclusive events per year.
The lineup will include:
• An exclusive regular-season football game each season from each participating school, as well as any spring football games.
• All regular season and exhibition men’s basketball games not distributed on ESPN’s linear networks (expected to be upwards of 75 games per year).
• Women’s basketball and other conference sports such as volleyball, soccer, wrestling, softball, baseball and more.
• Select Big 12 championship events and also other original content.
“Our institutions are thrilled with the exposure all 10 athletics programs will receive through this Big 12-branded offering,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “I appreciate the efforts of ESPN’s Burke Magnus, Nick Dawson and Pete Derzis in bringing this to fruition. Building on our relationship with ESPN and Disney DTCI allows our programs access to cutting-edge technology through the ESPN+ platform, and the ability for multiple live contests to be distributed simultaneously. Our goal was to be forward thinking in the use of technology to create a conference-branded platform and believe this partnership ideally positions the Big 12 now and into the foreseeable future.”
“We appreciate the continued collaboration with our friends at the Big 12 Conference and their commitment to innovation,” said Magnus, who is ESPN’s executive vice president, programming & scheduling. “This enhancement to our rights agreement reflects an ongoing desire to give Big 12 fans access to their favorite teams and hundreds of more contests, while embracing the power of technology and the expanded nature of sports consumption with ESPN+.”
WVU officials also pointed out that the new agreement is expected to enhance the Big 12’s bargaining power when renewing the next full media contract, which will then include all Tier 1 and Tier 2 rights. That contract currently runs through the end of the 2024-25 season, though usually renegotiations of such deals start several years in advance of the end of the current contract.