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Big 12-2-2 Network Coming Soon

There are reports that Fox is currently in negotiation on two fronts in the Big 12. First and foremost, Fox and the Conference are nearing completion of a cable deal that would triple the league's take to over $60 million a year.

The league is already getting $60 million a year from ESPN for its TV package, which runs through 2016. It is expected that the two deals will combine to bring in over $130 million a year to the league - now split between 10 teams after the defections of Nebraska and Colorado. After that deal is completed the network will then turn its attention to making a deal with 8 members of the league for a conference-specific cable channel. Well, a sort of conference-specific channel. Fox will try to make a deal for the third-tier rights from Texas A&M, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Baylor.

Any Big 12 conference channel would not include the home inventory of either Texas -- who already has a deal with ESPN, or Oklahoma, which is in negotiations for its own regional network.

The proposed conference channel would bring together all the third tier rights from the eight schools. The third-tier rights are the games that are not picked up as part of the network or cable contracts, so they drop to the third tier. It is expected that the rights would include one live home football game from each campus with as many as 10 basketball games. Other sports such as baseball and women's basketball would also be part of the package.

Fox is expected to take one of their already established regional sports channels and convert it to the Big 12 channel.

Startup costs would be relatively small since Fox already has the infrastructure in place for regional networks around the country. The channel would probably start out with a potential base audience of 15-20 million homes. Since all of these programs already have companies that own their third tier rights, negotiations will have to take place between Fox and the rights holders. That means that the schools should not expect a big financial improvement with the conference channel, but it will obviously improve everyone's exposure and help with recruiting.

Kansas basketball will probably be the star attraction of any Big 12 conference channel.

Basketball, specifically Kansas basketball, could be the lynchpin of any such network. Multiple live games involving Kansas State and Missouri would also be one of the better draws for the network. Scheduling is one of the top negotiating points right now. Fox will want to have some football games live past the begining of October, which means there will have to be some shuffling of conference schedules to put some of the non-conference games later in the year. It is also assumed that any conflicts between the dueling networks will be settled by having the home team hold the TV rights to all conference contests.

Also just what do you call a Big 12 network that involves only 8 teams.

Any suggestions?