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Big 12 Deal



I don’t really understand what’s going on.

What I know is that Fox just laid down north of a billion dollars to show 40 Big 12 games a year for the next thirteen years. What I’m confused about is, well, why they would do this.

The old Fox contract was worth about $20M a year to the twelve teams in the conference in exchange for the rights for Fox to broadcast 20+ games a year. The new deal (not to be confused with anything FDR did) will pay out an egregious $90M a year for the rights to broadcast forty games.

So essentially Fox’s math is 2x the games – 3rd (or 2nd) most attractive team = 4x the money!

Dan Beebe claims Fox is laying down the cash because the entire sport of college football is undervalued in terms of TV contracts and I think he’s kind of right. For comparison Fox is currently paying $710M a year for its NFL contract. That’s a little different because those games are broadcast on their network station (as opposed to cable for college) but still, even with the new contract you’re basically saying college football is 1/7 as popular as the NFL. If I’m Fox I take that bet all day.

BUT, I’m not sure if I take it on the Big 12. A few years back ESPN laid down $130M a year on the SEC (the deal included basketball) and in much the same way ABC has first dibs on the Big 12 game of the week, CBS still gets the first cut of SEC football.

The thing about that though is how many marketable, nationally recognizable teams there are in the SEC. Florida, Bama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia, Arkansas, and on and on and on. That’s a gamble I’d take.

Fox, on the other hand, is going to be rolling the dice with Robert Griffin taking on Blaine Gabbert’s little brother in a “highly touted mid-November Big 12 tilt.” That’…not as marketable as LSU Auburn On the Plains for the SEC West….

It’s excellent from OSU’s perspective however. More games on TV means more national exposure, not to mention the $9M coming their way annually just for having the Big 12 insignia next to their name.

Does it increase the stability of the Big 12. David Ubben thinks so. I’m not so sure. The Big 12 hinges upon Texas and everyone knows it.

And as we’ve all seen with the new Longhorn Network, Texas will do whatever Texas wants to do. Does that mean independence any time in the next 10 years? Maybe, if a school could (and would) do it, it’s them. A&M, for all their pomp and circumstance re: SEC, isn’t going anywhere and OU knows all they have to do is beat the mighty Horns in a neutral field game every year to be in the hunt for a national title.

Certainly the new deal doesn’t in any way hurt the Big 12 but $9M to Texas is like Bama getting a 4-star safety, in the end, pretty ho-hum.

So maybe I’ll be proven wrong and the Big 12 will skip ahead to the front of the line of college football’s A-list performers, but I doubt it. I’m not sure I believe in what Fox is doing, but really who cares when Holder and Burns just took $9M non-Boone money to Stillwater National Bank?

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