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Big 12 Media Partners Fighting Expansion

ESPN and Fox see this as subtraction by addition.

Well what do you know.

Both ESPN and Fox don’t believe that paying $40-$80 million more a year for a watered down product is such a hot idea.

All the talk about adding teams outside the Power 5 to the Big 12 isn’t sitting well with the league’s media partners. The Big 12, having no shot at creating a conference network, is looking at adding teams to cushion the bottom line.

There is a clause in the conference’s media deals stipulate that if the Big 12 expands, it would receive pro rata increases in its rights fees. The original deal pay $2.6 billion over 13 years, or about $20 million per school annually. Supposedly that would mean another $40 million if two teams are added, $80 million if four are invited.

It is a money grab pure and simple, and it is about the current members getting even more. No doubt the new members, anxious to have a seat at the Big Boy Table, will agree to a scaled entry, where they would not receive full compensation for at least 4 or 5 years.

Naturally, ESPN and Fox are not excited about paying that kind of money for teams that historically haven’t been attractive TV draws.

They also remember that they have already done their part for the league. Back in 2010 the networks agreed to pay the league the same amount for a 10-team conference as they were before Nebraska and Colorado bolted.

ESPN has watched subscribers drop by over 7 million over the last 3 years, and there is talk that they may simply say "No." That could lead to the Big 12 suing their TV partners.

Maybe the networks pull out the nuclear option. The grudgingly accept the increases — and then ditch the league in 2025 when the TV (and Grant of Rights) expire.

Makes you wonder if Texas officials had a conversation with their LHN partner before coming out so publicly in favor of taking Houston should the league expand, knowing full well it could be DOA.