The Big 12’s media rights deals with ESPN and Fox don’t expire until the summer of 2025, but commissioner Brent Yormark wants those deals extended early.
Per an article from Forbes, Yormark claims he has engaged in “meaningful conversations” with both ESPN and Fox regarding the contracts, and is attempting to get a deal done nearly a year and a half before the exclusive negotiating window with the two networks in February 2024.
“I’ve had meaningful conversations with ESPN and with Fox over the last 30 days about do we accelerate that, do we think about doing something now?” Yormark said.
“Those conversations are ongoing,” said Yormark, who took over this summer as Big 12 Commissioner after stints as an executive with NASCAR, the Brooklyn Nets and Roc Nation. “Whether we get to an early deal or not, I don’t know.”
He added: “If I can’t get a deal done with them, we’ll just wait until February ‘24, but we’ve had great conversations over the last 30 days. I think both realize the potential of this conference, they want to be partners as we build our brands and we’ll see whether we can get to an early extension or not.”
At the end of August, the Big 12 initially decided to enter into those early talks with ESPN and Fox. There’s been no announcement about a deal in the six weeks since, though ESPN’s Pete Thamel initially reported that if something got done, “it would likely be for a short-term extension.”
Yormark also seemed confident in the conference’s value, even without Texas and Oklahoma (departing for the SEC in the summer of 2025).
“I can tell you that from a TV perspective we’ll go up [in value],” Yormark said. “We’re not going backwards, we’re not staying flat. Whether we can get an early extension or not, we’re looking at increased numbers, which are indicative of the value of this conference and our members.”
I think it makes sense for the networks to hold off on giving the Big 12 any more money until they see what ends up happening with the Pac-12. And hell, waiting might even benefit the Big 12. If the Pac-12 leaves one or both of ESPN and Fox for a streaming company, that opens the door for the Big 12 to potentially cash in even more than the conference would tomorrow.