Eight Big 12 athletic directors met with a media rights holder Friday morning to discuss forming their own cable network.
Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Iowa State, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas State had discussions Learfield Sports, a Plano, Texas-based company that manages the multimedia rights for more than 50 universities nationwide. Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne has talked and tweeted about the meeting publicly. The move is not related to any conference shifting, but is seen as a new revenue stream.
"[People are] interested in creating a cable network for the conference," Byrne told CBSSports.com. "It's something I'm quite interested in ... It's something that our fans are going to be demanding sooner rather than later."
This is the conference's last season as a 12-team league. Nebraska is headed to the Big Ten in 2011. Colorado is leaving for the Pac-10 in either 2011 or 2012. It wasn't immediately clear what Colorado was doing at the meeting if it is soon leaving the league.
Texas' rights are not handled by Learfield. The school has made it clear it wants to develop its own channel or network.
"If they can pull that off, my hat's off to them," Byrne said. "We're just having preliminary discussions right now to gauge the level of interest."
Experts have said the success of a college sports cable network hinge on the number of football and men's basketball games it can broadcast. Fox Sports, ESPN and ABC own those Big 12 rights. Byrne said there could be some flexibility in new negotiations. The Big 12 has been promised upwards of $20 million annually per team in the new round of negotiations which begin next year.
"That's what you have to have to have a successful cable channel," Byrne said. "You have to have football and a handful of men's basketball games."
Learfield played down the meeting.
"It caused a lot of questions [from media]," a spokesman said. "It was nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn't anything top secret."