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ESPN lands rights to additional Big 12 championship games in revised media contract

A new media rights agreement between the Big 12 and ESPN will land the Big 12 championship game on either ABC or ESPN every season through the 2024 season. The terms of the new agreement will land a number of Big 12 games exclusively on ESPN’s digital subscription platform, ESPN+, with a couple of notable exceptions.

As outlined in the press release from ESPN, every member of the Big 12 will have one regular season football game broadcast exclusively on ESPN+. The exceptions to that plan, as you may have guessed, are Texas and Oklahoma.

While Texas and Oklahoma are exempt from this part of the deal, the Longhorns and Sooners can appear as a road team in games listed on the service. It is just not a guarantee Texas or Oklahoma will be the road team. Although the possibility of having Texas or Oklahoma as a road team in a digital exclusive broadcast, it may still make more sense for ESPN and the Big 12 to have one of the top two brands in the conference appearing on TV and not a subscriber-only digital platform. The broadcast landscape is changing, but it hasn’t quite evolved to the point where it makes more sense to have Texas or Oklahoma exclusively on the digital service when both are legitimate Big 12, and possible playoff, contenders.

“Our institutions are thrilled with the exposure all 10 athletics programs will receive through this Big 12-branded offering,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a released statement. “Our goal was to be forward thinking in the use of technology to create a conference-branded platform and believe this partnership ideally positions the Big 12 now and into the foreseeable future.”

According to a report from Sports Business Journal, ESPN is investing an additional $40 million in the re-worked deal on top of what was previously in play with a previous contract. With the revisions and additions made, the Big 12 stands to receive $22 million per year for the Big 12 championship game broadcast rights, according to the Sports Business Journal. That would make the Big 12 happy after initially being reported to be seeking at least $20 million per year for the conference championship game after FOX backed away from their commitment to airing the game. It was expected ESPN would swoop in for the other half of the games now up for grabs from the previous split deal between the Big 12, FOX, and ESPN.

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