Big 12 and ESPN reach long-term agreement
IRVING, Texas -- The Big 12 Conference announced today the continuation of its ABC/ESPN television relationship with an eight-year multimedia and sponsorship agreement.
The new contract will provide broader football exposure for the Big 12 on ABC as well as additional coverage of Big 12 basketball and Olympic sports on ESPN's family of networks. The contract will begin with the 2008-09 academic year and run through 2015-16.
Big 12 football will receive up to 19 telecasts per season on ABC, including the Dr Pepper Big 12 Football Championship. Football exposure will be enhanced by broader distribution of regional telecasts on ABC as the geographical footprint of affiliates carrying Big 12 games will be expanded. In addition to four guaranteed national telecasts each season, the Conference will have significant prime-time exposure on ABC.
In men's basketball, the Big 12 will become the first conference to be guaranteed three weekly telecast windows on ESPN or ESPN2. In addition, 95 games will air annually with more than 60 contests broadcast by ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com, ABC or another national over-the-air network. The Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship will continue to be televised on a variety of ESPN platforms including ESPN, ESPN2 and regional syndication on a re-branded Big 12 Network.
"This agreement greatly enhances guaranteed national exposure for the Conference," Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said. "We have nearly tripled the number of men's basketball games guaranteed for distribution on ESPN national platforms and the Big 12 will be the only conference with three weekly windows on ESPN or ESPN2 during conference play. The agreement also is good for fans in that it provides a large number of games in distribution by over-the-air television."
Big 12 Conference Board of Directors chair and University of Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman likewise was enthusiastic about extending the relationship with ABC and ESPN. "We are pleased that ESPN has recognized the attractiveness of Big 12 athletics by increasing the national coverage of our games, the value of our product and creating new opportunities for our fans to access their favorite teams," Perlman said. "We are excited about our expanded relationship with ABC and ESPN."
"The Big 12 will receive more exposure than it's ever had," John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, programming and acquisitions said. "With action on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 leading the way and even more quality content on growing outlets like ESPNU and ESPN360.com, we are delighted to creatively serve the passionate fan bases that support the great schools in this top conference."
The Big 12 will continue to be a key programming component in the most visible ABC and ESPN windows. The Conference will be featured in national football telecasts on Thanksgiving weekend with two games on Friday; continue its football presence on Championship Saturday; serve as an anchor for ESPN's popular Big Monday basketball lineup; and maintain a highly visible basketball championship position. In addition, weekly telecasts previously carried in syndication under the ESPN+ brand will now be distributed as the Big 12 Network. Out-of-market football and men's basketball games featuring Big 12 teams will also be available through ESPN's Game Plan and Full Court subscription packages.
The Big 12 also will receive enhanced exposure on ESPNU, the rapidly growing national network dedicated to college athletics. It is anticipated that ESPNU will be widely available throughout the Big 12 region before the contract's effective date.
Other Big 12 sports like volleyball, baseball and softball, as well as women's basketball, also will receive additional exposure in the new package. ESPN/ESPN2 will telecast six events annually and may place an extra 25 games each year on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. ESPNU also will air a weekly in-season 30-minute news program devoted to the Big 12. ESPN Regional, which has fostered strong title sponsor relationships with Dr Pepper and Phillips 66, will continue to manage the conference's corporate partner program.
Big 12 institutions continue to retain state-wide broadcast rights to men's basketball games not selected for telecast by ESPN. These games have typically been packaged together with rights for radio broadcasts, coaches' shows, local sponsorships and other opportunities to create additional revenue and exposure streams beyond those provided by the Conference.
"We took a hard look at a variety of television options," Weiberg said. "Our membership feels strongly that this agreement with ABC/ESPN provides the broadest national exposure and is easily accessible to our fans, while preserving the continuation of institutional packages of televised events that supply direct revenue and additional coverage for our institutions. This arrangement builds on the 11-year relationship we have enjoyed with the network and provides continued financial growth."
The Conference also secured shared archive rights to past and future telecasts on ABC and ESPN. "The ability to access telecast archives is another attractive feature as it allows our institutions to make use of historic game footage," Weiberg said. "This content adds market value and permits our members to develop new media alternatives for the future."
Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Fox Sports Net (FSN) will continue to manage the telecast and distribution of Big 12 football games via cable, as well as a significant number of women's basketball and other sports events.
The Big 12 Conference is comprised of Baylor University, University of Colorado at Boulder, Iowa State University, University of Kansas, Kansas State University, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University. The Big 12 is an NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics conference that encompasses seven states with over 42 million people within its geographic footprint. More than 4,600 student-athletes compete annually in the 21 sports sponsored by the Conference.
ESPN, Inc. is the world's leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of six domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU), ESPN and ESPN2 HD simulcast services, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (32 networks, syndication, radio, web sites), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN360.com (Broadband), ESPN Mobile Properties, ESPN on Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV. Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.