46 Days Until Kansas Football: The Big 12 might have a new media rights ally. – Sports Illustrated

It seems that the silly season never really goes away. Just when I thought we were going to take a bit of a lull in our talks about conference realignment, we had two big pieces of news drop today that could have ramifications on how realignment ultimately shakes out. And both are related to developments that could affect how much the Big 12 might be able to get for their media rights after the current contract expires.
We'll leave the news of where the Big 12 will not be turning to partner on media rights for another day, but today we'll
The first piece of news came out this afternoon, with Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports exploring some of the creative ways that Notre Dame is looking to maintain their football independence.
At first glance, you might wonder why Notre Dame would forgo a reported $100 million from the Big Ten to stay independent, and the numbers that are being talked about here are a big reason why. As a partial member of the ACC, Notre Dame is receiving a decent amount for all of its other sports besides football. The last reported number shows that ACC schools are getting an average of $36 million per school from the conference's media rights deal. While I think it's fair to say that Notre Dame's share is probably lower than other schools because their football program isn't included, their scheduling agreement probably means that it is still pretty close to that number.
So if Notre Dame can keep anywhere close to that number coming in, and then add a $75 million per year football media contract with NBC, then they quickly meet the reported number from the Big Ten and have a chance to exceed it.
So how could the Big 12 be involved in such a way that NBC could give Notre Dame that much money and still make it worthwhile for the Big 12? The simple answer is inventory. Right now, NBC's only college football broadcast is the ones they do for Notre Dame home games. That means there is no studio show, no lead-in from other games or way to keep college football fans watching after. And there is no college athletics inventory to help prop up their streaming service Peacock. And that's where the Big 12 comes in.
Simply put, the Big 12 has a lot of inventory. The Big 12 Now that is currently housed on ESPN+ was an expansion on the prior media rights agreement that the conference had with ESPN. This means that when the media rights deal expires, all of that content is available for a new home. With the potential of Peacock looking for sports inventory, at the very least this creates an opportunity for the Big 12 to drive up the price for their Tier 3 rights.
And of course Big 12 football would be the main draw in this kind of deal. If NBC is serious about trying to hold on to Notre Dame and create a quality football product, they will need additional games that they can televise to keep eyeballs on their sports programming throughout the day. A studio show is way too expensive to produce if it's just one home game, but if you have a full conference slate of games, then you can put football on all day long. Especially if the conference is in three (and potentially four with expansion) time zones that could support a wide variety of start times.
Some have speculated that in order for something like this to work, Notre Dame would need to enter a scheduling agreement with the Big 12. I disagree. One, it would be difficult (and expensive) for Notre Dame to get out of the scheduling agreement they have with the ACC. That means a multiple-game per year agreement wouldn't work.
But the Big 12 and Notre Dame could theoretically stage one marquee matchup per year, and the extra inventory for NBC means that the network isn't recouping broadcast costs with only the revenue generated from a single team. And the main purpose of this sort of agreement would be to maintain the status quo of football independence for as long as possible.
Bringing together the Big 12, Notre Dame and NBC gives a rare opportunity for all three parties to benefit and find extra value. NBC gets a massive infusion of inventory in the form of Big 12 contests. Notre Dame gets a chance to increase their revenue while maintaining their independence. The Big 12 gets a chance to drive up prices for their content in a bid to try and minimize the gap that is sure to emerge between the Big Ten/SEC and the Big 12. At the very least, it can't hurt to have another bidder to help raise the ultimate value once the contract is signed.
Join the discussion! Come talk about this or any of our articles on the Blue Wing Rising Discord Server.
Follow Blue Wings Rising on Twitter.
Listen to the official podcast of Blue Wings Rising: The Rock Chalk Podcast.
Editor-in-Chief, Blue Wings Rising


Leave a Comment