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Big 12 Conference, ESPN Enhance Comprehensive Rights Agreement
April 10, 2019
RELATED LINKS
  • Big 12 Football Championship to be on ABC or ESPN annually through 2024
  • Big 12-branded digital offering and event presentation to launch as part of innovative deal
  • Hundreds of events, including exclusive football and basketball, coming to ESPN+

ESPN and the Big 12 Conference have significantly expanded their existing rights agreement, which runs through the 2024-25 season. Adding to its already robust coverage of the Big 12, the agreement means that ABC or ESPN will now exclusively televise the Big 12 Football Championship every year through 2024 – adding three additional championship games (2019, 2021 and 2023) and bolstering ABC and ESPN’s Championship Saturday lineup each year on the eve of College Football’s Selection Day.

In addition, the agreement will bring hundreds of Big 12 events – including exclusive football and basketball games, as well as multiple other sports, conference championships and original content – to ESPN+, the direct-to-consumer subscription sports streaming service.  As part of the agreement, all ESPN+ events will be produced and presented under a Big 12-branded offering to be developed by the conference and ESPN, and launched on ESPN+ ahead of the start of the 2019-20 athletic season.

“Our institutions are thrilled with the exposure all 10 athletics programs will receive through this Big 12-branded offering,” commented Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.  “I appreciate the efforts of ESPN’s Burke Magnus, Nick Dawson and Pete Derzis in bringing this to fruition. Building on our relationship with ESPN and Disney DTCI allows our programs access to cutting-edge technology through the ESPN+ platform, and the ability for multiple live contests to be distributed simultaneously.  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.”

“We appreciate the continued collaboration with our friends at the Big 12 Conference and their commitment to innovation,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president, programming & scheduling. “This enhancement to our rights agreement reflects an ongoing desire to give Big 12 fans access to their favorite teams and hundreds of more contests, while embracing the power of technology and the expanded nature of sports consumption with ESPN+.”

Hundreds of Events Added Through 2024-25

Under the expanded agreement, hundreds of additional Big 12 sports events annually will be presented under the new Big 12-branded offering on ESPN+, with each participating Big 12 Conference school assigning available rights to ESPN and delivering more than 50 exclusive events per year. The lineup will include:

  • An exclusive regular-season football game each season from each participating school, as well as any spring football games;
  • All regular season and exhibition men’s basketball games not distributed on ESPN’s linear networks (expected to be upwards of 75 games per year);
  • Women’s basketball and other conference sports such as volleyball, soccer, wrestling, softball, baseball and more;
  • Select Big 12 Conference championship events and original content.

Eight of the conference’s 10 schools will produce and deliver multiple sports under the new Big 12-branded platform on ESPN+, with schools joining on a rolling basis. Starting in 2019, there will be games from Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State, in addition to the select Big 12 Conference championship events.

In 2020-21, Iowa State, TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech will join the lineup. Due to existing long-term rights agreements, Texas (the Longhorn Network) and Oklahoma will not produce and deliver programming included on ESPN+ at this time, but will be featured as road teams in games listed under the new Big 12-branded offering on the service.

Big 12 events will be available as part of any ESPN+ subscription, and join a programming lineup of thousands of live sports events and thousands of hours of on-demand content, including acclaimed original programming and the 30 for 30 film library, as well as premium editorial content and tools. Fans can subscribe at www.espnplus.com.

The ESPN App and ESPN.com will offer a branded, one-stop home for viewing Big 12 events, making events distributed under the new Big 12-branded offering on ESPN+ accessible to fans alongside current Big 12 events streamed from ESPN networks (available to pay television subscribers via “TV everywhere” authentication), as well as other related video. The content will also be served to fans who select Big 12 Conference member schools among their favorites in the ESPN App.

About ESPN+
ESPN+ is the multi-sport, direct-to-consumer video service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment and ESPN. It reached 2 million subscribers in less than a year and offers fans thousands of live events, on-demand content and original programming not available on ESPN’s linear TV or digital networks, along with premium editorial content.

Programming on ESPN+ includes hundreds of MLB and NHL games, exclusive UFC and Top Rank boxing events, top domestic and international soccer (Serie A, MLS, FA Cup, UEFA Nations League, EFL Championship, EFL Carabao Cup, Eredivisie, and more), thousands of college sports events (including football, basketball and other sports) from more than a dozen conferences, Grand Slam tennis -  Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open, international and domestic rugby and cricket, new and exclusive series, acclaimed studio shows and the full library of ESPN’s award-winning 30 for 30 films. Fans subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) and can cancel at any time.

ESPN+ is available as an integrated part of the ESPN App (on mobile and connected devices) and ESPN.com. They are the industry-leading all-in-one digital sports platform, delivering a rich, personalized experience to tens of millions of fans every month.

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Media Contacts:
Keri Potts, ESPN Communications, keri.a.potts@espn.com
Paul Melvin, Disney DTCI, paul.melvin@disney.com
Bob Burda, Big 12, Bob@Big12Sports.com

What Big 12 Athletics Directors Are Saying
Mack Rhoades, Baylor:
“Today marks a significant milestone for the Big 12, ESPN and our fans. The creation of a Big 12-branded identity on ESPN+ will not only expand the scope of our offerings but it will also serve as a platform to provide exclusive content directly to the Baylor family – content that can be accessed live and from anywhere in the country. This collaboration is a recognition of the strength of this conference and the continued progress and bright future that is ahead for the Big 12. We are incredibly grateful for the partnership of ESPN and look forward to all that is to come.”

Jamie Pollard, Iowa State:
“We are tremendously pleased with the upcoming launch of a Big 12-branded digital channel on ESPN+. The network will allow us to efficiently showcase our student-athletes, coaches and institutions to fans across the nation. Solidifying a partnership with ESPN enhances our conference brand and allows us to continue delivering Iowa State Athletics content successfully in the rapidly changing environment of sports telecasting. This Big 12-branded offering will raise the visibility of the league, potentially enhance revenues and further solidifies our standing as one of the elite conferences nationally.”

Jeff Long, Kansas:
“This agreement strengthens the Big 12 Conference’s alliance with our valued broadcast partner, and helps ensure the conference’s future financial growth. While this decision means a change in how our local and regional fans watch a few early-season games, it will allow Jayhawks around the world the convenience of watching games when they want and with the same excellent quality we are all used to on the ESPN Networks.  We also know more and more Jayhawk fans look to digital platforms to watch their favorite programming; now they will be able watch their favorite team via the industry’s leading digital sports platform.”

Gene Taylor, K-State:
“The Big 12 Conference is in the midst of one its most steady and successful periods in its history, and this new partnership with ESPN on a branded digital network is another sign of growth and solidarity for our league and 10 institutions. For the first time ever, fans will be able to follow all live Big 12 action in one location as we continue to evolve and be a leader in the ever-changing world of technology and broadcasting options, while putting ourselves in solid position for the future with all of our media and sponsorship rights aligning. We appreciate the work of Commissioner Bowlsby and the executives at ESPN for working together and maintaining the Big 12’s position as one of the premier athletic conferences in the country.”

Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma:
“This is a hallmark day in the history of the Big 12 Conference.  It affirms the stated desire of our Board of Directors and Athletics Directors to be forward thinking in the use of technology in delivering a Conference-branded outlet that enables all fans to follow their favorite teams.  Today’s announcement further enhances the Big 12 brand and favorably positions the Conference for years to come.”

Mike Holder, Oklahoma State:
“The Big 12-branded identity on ESPN+ is a step forward for our conference. While no one knows exactly what tomorrow may bring, all indications are that digital platforms are the future. At Oklahoma State we are excited to partner with our conference brethren in this next evolution of college athletics.”

Jeremiah Donati, TCU:
“This announcement is incredibly exciting for each of the member institutions and their respective constituents. Not only does it demonstrate that our leadership is focused on being ahead of the industry trend, it sends a strong statement about the long term viability of the conference as a whole.”

Chris Del Conte, Texas:
“We are very excited for Longhorn fans to be able to watch us compete in a wide array of sports from across the Big 12. To be the first Autonomy Conference to have a branded identity on the ESPN+ platform speaks to the long-term growth of the Conference and the embrace of technology to deliver content to our fans.”

Kirby Hocutt, Texas Tech:
“This is an exciting announcement for the Big 12 Conference.  The opportunity to strengthen our partnership with ESPN, in a truly worldwide type of opportunity, is tremendous.  The digital technology world is the future and this will put the Big 12 Conference at the forefront in college sports.” 

Shane Lyons, West Virginia:
“This is exciting and great news. The Big 12-branded identity on ESPN+ is the logical next step for our conference. The strength and unity among the schools is greater than ever, and we are looking forward to partnering with ESPN for this next evolution, which will make the Big 12 brand even stronger. Each conference member has made the commitment to this digital offering, and the winners will be the fans.”   

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