The Big 12 is expected to announce a deal with Fox this afternoon for the reconstituted league's secondary television rights. The league has scheduled a 4 pm ET conference call with commissioner Dan Beebe.
The 13-to-15-year deal is expected to approach $90 million annually. It would be worth more than $1 billion in total. ESPN/ABC still hold primary basketball and football rights through 2015-16.
The latest announcement is the upshot of Texas keeping the league together last summer after turning down an offer to join the Pac-10. The new number is expected to a be 350 percent increase in the current rights fees paid by Fox despite the loss of Nebraska and Colorado.
Texas turned down the Pac-10 offer after Fox and ESPN, according to reports, promised rights fees that in the end could be worth $20 million per school per year. Fox reportedly promised a significant increase while ESPN said it would continue its current payouts to the Big 12 despite the loss of Nebraska and Colorado.
The average fan might wonder where the money is coming from. Ultimately, it will come from them in their cable bill. Sports is seen as the ultimate reality show. Because results are immediately available, sports are unlikely to be DVRed which is attractive to advertisers. The ACC doubled its takes in its latest deal with ESPN. Fox finished a close second in that deal. The money left over may be going to the Big 12. There are reports that the new Pac 12 deal may approach the annual take of the SEC and Big Ten. Each of those schools receive a reported $22.2 million per year in rights fees.
The Big 12 broadcast "footprint" represents approximately 16 percent of the nation's TV households. It was worth it for ESPN and Fox to keep the league alive. The alternative could have meant the loss to two BCS leagues for both networks. The Big 12 would have ceased to exist while the new Pac 12 is, as speculated, going out for bid on the open market.