By Chris Derrett
Baylor athletics director Ian McCaw has never seen Baylor football on television as much as he will beginning with the 2012-13 season.
It was all the more reason to smile as he stood before Central Texas media Wednesday and discussed the Big 12’s lucrative new television deal with Fox Sports Media Group.
“Today’s a great day for Baylor University and the Big 12,” McCaw said.
The Big 12 announced Wednesday it agreed to a 13-year deal with Fox, allocating 40 football games per year for broadcast on Fox’s family of national cable networks.
The fact that Fox was willing to commit to the Big 12 for so many years, combined with each Big 12 school’s agreement to the deal, “goes a long way to stabilizing the conference for a long-term, prosperous future,” McCaw said.
Such a partnership had been speculated for at least a month prior to Wednesday’s official announcement, with revenue for the Big 12 estimated at $90 million per year.
“It’s extremely lucrative,” McCaw said. “We’re not allowed to disclose the exact details of the financial agreement, but it’s going to put the Big 12 and our member institutions in a position where we have resources commensurate with the top programs in the country.”
The agreement specifically allots all “tier two” games to Fox. There are three tiers concerning collegiate sports broadcasts, with ABC/ESPN owning the broadcast rights to the Big 12’s tier one events through 2015-16.
“Tier one” includes up to 22 football games ABC/ESPN chooses to broadcast each year as well as the Big 12 basketball games selected for broadcast by ESPN. Tier two consists of 40 football games not selected by ABC/ESPN, and all other games and other sports, such as baseball and softball, fall into tier three. Each school also receives the right to withhold broadcast rights of one home football game each season for itself.
Part of Fox’s deal also requires it to broadcast an additional 40 non-football events per school year, 25 specifically being women’s basketball.
Every Big 12 school can now look forward to having each of its nine conference games televised on either Fox or ABC/ESPN.
The impact of the agreement is especially monumental for Baylor, which saw 10 regular season football games televised last season but has had as few as three in a season during McCaw’s tenure.
“Branding is such a big part of what athletics brings to this institution. The branding that this is going to provide in terms of widespread national exposure is going to be very significant for the university,” McCaw said.
McCaw was at a golf event in Georgetown earlier in the day, where he said numerous alumni voiced excitement over the deal. Events like last year’s homecoming game, in which Baylor became bowl eligible for the first time in 15 years but had no television audience, could now reach even those living outside the Central Texas market.
But the positives for fans and revenue flow for the conference didn’t take top importance in McCaw’s opinion. McCaw said 10 months after nearly watching the conference disband, hearing a 13-year commitment from both the schools and a media distributor like Fox mean the most for the Big 12’s future.
“The focus really is on long-term stability of the conference,” McCaw said.