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The Big 12 is Reportedly Still Considering a Non-Traditional Distribution Model



Oklahoma’s win over Ohio State improved the Big 12’s perception nationally in college football this season, and thus far in 2017, the conference on the whole has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in part because of the installation of a Big 12 title game, too.

Now no prognosticator can claim the conference, which plays a full round-robin schedule as well as a championship game, doesn’t have enough data points. In the words of David Fizdale: Take that for data!

Remember that time everyone thought the conference should expand by adding Houston and Cincinnati? Those days seem pretty far in the past; however, those expansion talks, which also included idea of the conference considering a television network, haven’t died in the way that expansion seemingly has.

According to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, the Big 12 is interested in what Dodd termed as “over-the-top streaming services” in the future, a la an ESPN3 model.

During its scuttled expansion plans — announced a year ago this month — the Big 12 made it clear a linear cable conference network wasn’t going to work. It’s also no secret now the Big 12 is interested in over-the-top streaming services in the future.

It’s that sort of thinking that has the league looking at a possible digital network¬† in the future, according to sources. Think of something more along the lines of ESPN3. How technology progresses in the near future — and those who control it — will be the deciding factor. [CBS Sports]

So what exactly does that mean? Will the Big 12 partner with Amazon to blaze a new trail in the way of streaming? Maybe Netflix?! It now seems very unlikely the conference follows suit with other major networks like the Pac-12 or Big Ten or SEC Networks to aim for its own TV channel with streaming options in partnership with ESPN or FOX.

“I’m not going to get into who I’ve talked [to, but] you’d have trouble naming one (large internet company) I haven’t talked to,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports.

All of those granular details, including the model it might pursue, seem unclear at this point. But if the conference is to survive in the immediate future and in the next potential round of realignment, it seems the step of securing some sort of distribution network is a necessary hurdle to clear.

Every other Power 5 conference has already locked in some sort of cable network or streaming option so it’s encouraging to see the Big 12 effort to get skin in the game. Its late arrival and seeming rejection of traditional TV might be a blessing in disguise with how much cord cutting is going on these days. Even if the conference is the last in the power ranks to try and clear the hurdle, it’s better late than never.

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