| Interview With Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe
WACO, Texas - Nearly 10 months to the day that the Big 12 Conference was rescued with an 11th-hour deal after the departures of Colorado and Nebraska, the league and Fox Sports Media Group have reached a 13-year agreement for exclusive cable rights to at least 40 football games per season.
"The agreement with Fox television represents an emphatic endorsement of the Big 12 Conference, underscoring the immense popularity of Big 12 athletics with fans and supporters of collegiate sports nationally," said Baylor President Ken Starr.
"Having been enthusiastically approved by every member of the conference, this contract also testifies to an extraordinary degree of unity among the member institutions of the Big 12. We look forward to the television broadcast of historic rivalries that will continue to be viewed and celebrated for years to come."
The new pact, which was announced on Wednesday, takes effect with the 2012 football season and grants Fox Sports Networks (FSN) the exclusive cable rights to televise a minimum of 40 regular-season Big 12 football games - nearly double the number under its current agreement. Many of the telecasts will continue to be distributed on FSN, which reaches over 85 million homes through two dozen owned and affiliated networks.
In addition, several of these telecasts will likely be scheduled as part of the recently announced new college football game of the week on FX, one of the nation's most-watched cable networks and now available in more than 99 million households. FSN also has similar cable exclusivity for a minimum of 40 Olympic sports, including women's basketball games and Conference championship events. The agreement also includes comprehensive multimedia rights to allow Fox to maximize online, mobile and wireless opportunities for its Big 12 content.
"This landmark agreement positions the Conference with one of the best television agreements in collegiate sports," said Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe. "It exceeds the benchmarks as we move forward with our 10 members by providing significant revenue growth and increased exposure while allowing institutions to retain selected rights. Most importantly, the agreement signifies the long-term commitment of the member institutions to one another. The Conference is delighted to continue its partnership with Fox and build on the momentum the FSN network has generated for the Big 12 brand through our first 15 years. We are excited about extending our presence on other FOX platforms, especially on FX, a top cable network."
Randy Freer, President of FOX Sports Networks, said the agreement "extends our relationship with a valued long-time partner and ensures that Fox Sports will have an incredibly strong college football slate to offer viewers well into the next decade."
When the agreement takes effect for the 2012-13 academic year, every Big 12 home football game will be broadcast on ABC, a FOX network or by institutional platforms. Big 12 schools will have the option to retain rights to one home football game per season for distribution through institutional platforms.
In all other sports, institutions will retain the rights to all home contests not selected for broadcast by ABC/ESPN or FOX Sports.
With its new Big 12 agreement in place, Fox Sports Media Group now boasts the most comprehensive portfolio of college product in the country, with nearly 2,000 marquee events showcased through national and regional platforms, including FOX Sports, FSN, the Big Ten Network and FOX College Sports.
Since other conferences around the nation have seen significant increases in their television revenues when they've had the opportunity to take their rights to market, the Big 12 Conference is looking at a "significant bump" after 2015-16 when its separate contract with ABC/ESPN for broadcast of over-the-air football (18 games a season) and men's basketball runs out.
Ian McCaw, Baylor's Director of Athletics, trumpeted the announcement of the new agreement with Fox Sports as an "exciting and much-anticipated day for Baylor and the Big 12."
"The new Fox contract and rights that fulfill the agreement solidifies the commitment of the Big 12 member institutions to one another and the conference for the long term," he said. "Baylor will benefit greatly from having long-term conference stability, enhanced revenue and increased media exposure that resulted from this successful negotiation.
"Moreover, there is tremendous potential for further revenue enhancement when the football broadcast and men's basketball cable rights are renegotiated."