Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Quick Note on Big 12 content deal for ESPN+

Breaking my own rule regarding taking April off, but I saw some comments on the Big 12 ESPN+ deal that I think will need clarification by the schools.

Per Sports Business Journal, the Big 12 and ESPN have completed an agreement for three Big 12 football championship games that would have been attached to FOX Sports (2019, 2021 and 2023).   FOX Sports still is maintaining its presence televising regular season football, women's basketball and other events not covered by the existing deal that ESPN has with the conference.

The other part of the deal involves content that the schools have retained outside of agreements with ESPN and FOX Sports.  Each school gets to keep a group of events to monetize for themselves, which includes a football game, some men's & women's basketball, baseball, softball and other sports.  Sometimes they're called third tier agreements, sometimes they are notated as member retained content.  Much of this content aired regionally, and sometimes nationally if the school was contracted to FOX Sports RSNs:
  • Baylor: FOX Sports
  • Iowa St: Cyclones.TV from Mediacom
  • Kansas: Jayhawk TV Network (distributed to linear TV stations & ESPN+)
  • Kansas St.: K-State HD TV (distributed to FOX Sports MW & ESPN3)
  • Oklahoma: FOX Sports
  • Oklahoma St.: FOX Sports
  • TCU: FOX Sports
  • Texas: Longhorn Network
  • Texas Tech: FOX Sports
  • West Virginia: Nexstar (distributed through AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh)
My initial thought is that the sale of the FOX Sports RSNs allowed for this mostly encompassing deal for this member retained content, while Texas will remain on Longhorn Network and Oklahoma (may?) stay with FOX Sports.

What I didn't see in this post from SBJ is whether the content will remain regionally distributed for the eight schools via linear TV and also through ESPN+ or if ESPN+ will become the exclusive distribution outlet for this content.  Hopefully that will be clarified.  I would think that since Texas maintains its linear TV presence, the other schools could be allowed to maintain theirs or continue to strike local TV deals for the content while maintaining the ESPN+ "outermarket" presence.  This would also allow for those who don't get content from a RSN affiliated with FOX Sports to be able to get this content on a regular basis.

EDIT: ESPN release says this content will be exclusive to ESPN+.  One way to look at this as a positive is that some schools didn't have a good way to get access to this content outside of their region or state.  Here's the ESPN release.

EDIT: Oklahoma's content deal with FOX Sports is a longer term deal than the other schools' deals.  It runs through 2022, so if it were to join up with other Big 12 schools in this venture, it would be at that time and not over the two year "phase-in" that is occuring for the eight schools pledging their content.

Also, Iowa St. spelled out exactly what will occur with their Cyclones.TV channel.  Live games will go to ESPN+, but the channel can continue to show press conferences and replays of live events.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just noticed this edit. As a Baylor fan, I'm very happy with the ESPN+ deal. I was already a subscriber for soccer content and now I can drop the regional sports package I buy from Direct TV. In fact, I could drop DirecTV all together and go with cable which would likely be cheaper for me based on my channel requirements.