During the 2022 season, the Big 12 signed a landmark deal to improve streaming services and expand television coverage of Big 12 football games that will go into effect for the 2025-26 season and will extend for six years. The agreement brings more funding to Big 12 schools and opens opportunities for fans across the country to catch their favorite college football games. Until the new contract goes into effect, Big 12 games will remain under the existing agreement that gives ESPN and FOX exclusive rights to air Big 12 games.
Table of Contents
Old Big 12 TV Deal
- Runs through 2024-25
- ESPN and FOX
- $220 million annually
- $40 million annually to teams
New Big 12 TV Deal
- Starts in 2025-26 and runs through 2031
- ESPN and FOX
- $380 million annually
- $50+ million annually to teams
For the 2023 Big 12 football season, ESPN gets the lion’s share of games across all of its properties, including “streaming exclusives” on ESPN+. The best way for fans to catch as many Big 12 football games as possible is to maintain a subscription to Hulu+ Live TV with the ESPN+ bundle. This bundle gives viewers access to most Big 12 football games, including games that stream exclusively on ESPN+. A subscription also allows viewers to stream content to smartphones and tablets, including live games, archives, and premium content, like UFC events.
New teams to join the Big 12 in 2023
The upcoming 2023-24 season will be the first to include four newcomers to the division. Following the announcement in 2021 that Texas and Oklahoma would both depart for the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in 2025, the Big 12 wooed BYU, Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston with all four schools joining in the upcoming season. The additions will take the Big 12 from just 10 teams to a total of 14 until the departure of Texas and Oklahoma.
The Big 12 Conference is expected to release a full 2023-24 football schedule for all 14 teams near the end of January 2023 but has not finalized the schedule at the time of this writing. Little is known at this time about the schedule except that not all members of the conference will face one another in the regular season.
The Big 12 typically releases the schedule sometime between December and February but appears to currently be hung up on details surrounding the pending exit of OU and Texas. According to reports from The Oklahoman, one of the current issues in getting the schedule released is a concern that it might fuel a buy-out option for the two marquee schools that are contractually obligated to remain in the Big 12 until the 2025 academic year.
Will UT and OU buy-out the final year of their Big 12 deal?
As it stands, the two schools would be required to pay tens of millions in order to get out of the current television marketing agreement one year early. The chance of this happening prior to the 2023 season is low as the SEC has already released the 2023 football schedule, but 2024-25 is still on the table. The Oklahoman could not provide a named source for the concern and was unable to determine how the upcoming schedule would be used as leverage by the two schools looking for an early release.
Value per team of the new Big 12 TV deal
The current television agreement provides approximately $41 million annually with a total value of about $220 million. When the new contract goes into effect, the 12 existing schools will collectively receive around $50 million annually for a total contract value in excess of $380 million. There are numerous financial factors -including Bowl and Championship games- that can ultimately impact the amount of money Big 12 schools will receive from the deal.
During the 2023 season, ESPN will have the rights to the Big 12 Championship game as they have since the current contract was signed in 2019. That agreement also states that each of the Big 12 schools will have one nationally-televised game each season.
ESPN+ will effectively be Big 12 Network
Unlike the Big 10, ACC, PAC-12, and SEC, the Big 12 lacks its own branded channel. Under the new TV deal, a major priority for ESPN will be driving ESPN+ signups with featured Big 12 games. Although the ESPN+ college football games will usually be “third tier,” meaning they weren’t bid on by media rights holders higher up the food chain, the gamble ESPN is making is that diehard fans will signup for ESPN+ to get access to the games.
ESPN+ is owned by the Disney Media Group which allows for streaming on a wide range of devices through one service. With the deal announced in 2019, ESPN+ became the de facto network provider for the Big 12. Initially, ESPN bid for the championship game every other year, but no other serious bids were made. Ultimately, streaming rights were the deciding factor in the Big 12 and ESPN getting the deal done.
The inclusion of four new teams and the national focus brought about by the TCU Horned Frogs’ unlikely 2022 season that ended in a National Championship Game appearance will mean that ESPN will offer a number of different streaming options and nationally televised games available on multiple platforms when the 2023-24 football season begins.
The upcoming contract will split games between ESPN and FOX with ESPN getting the first choice of games. Fox will carry 26 football games along with an expanded number of NCAA basketball games. The networks will select games in rounds with ESPN getting four of the top six, six of the top eight, eight of the top 12, and 12 of the top 20 games.
The 2023-24 Big 12 football season will include 168 regular-season games. Each team will play nine conference games and three non-conference games in the season. The slate can also include nine or more bowl games depending on the number of teams that qualify for appearances and accept invitations. ESPN will have the right to stream Big 12 Bowl games during the 2023-24 season.
Note- we reached out to Bob Burda at the Big 12 to confirm the streaming deals. I reached out to ESPN but have not heard back. I verified aspects of the deal through archived news articles.