The Big 12's television contract with ESPN and FOX finally has been approved.
"The stability of the Big 12 Conference is cemented," said commissioner Bob Bowlsby. "We are positioned with one of the best media rights arrangements in collegiate sports, providing the conference and its members unprecedented revenue growth, and sports programming over two networks."
The 13-year contract begins now, which means those Sept. 22 OU-Kansas State and Sept. 29 OSU-Texas games can be officially announced as 6:30 p.m. kickoffs on Fox's over-air network (KOKH-25). That's the highlight of the new contract — both ESPN and Fox now will broadcast games both on cable and over-air.
Here are the highlights of the joint agreement:
* An increase in the number of guaranteed full national football telecasts to a minimum of 25 per season on a combination of ABC, FOX, ESPN and FX.
* Allows FOX over-the-air access to Big 12 football with a minimum of six games annually on broadcast television.
* Allows ESPN cable access to Big 12 football for ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
* Provides FOX with enhanced selections through 2015. ESPN and FOX share rotating game selections beginning in 2016. The current contracts go through 2015, so they've compromised until then. Then in '16, it's a partnership, with alternate picks. Which begs a question. Could Big FOX televise OU-Texas in 2016 or 2017?
* Beginning this season, every Big 12 home football game will be carried on a combination of ESPN, FOX or institutional platforms. Big 12 schools will have the option to retain rights to one conference-controlled football game per season for distribution via permitted member institution outlets and third-party licensees, or can return the retained game back to FOX for broadcast.
Here are a few quotes provided by the Big 12:
* OSU president Burns Hargis, chairman of the Big 12 board: "The Big 12 will generate per member television revenue at the highest level of college athletics, while increasing exposure for our programs, and continuing to provide for comprehensive institutional rights. The conference is excited to build upon its long-standing relationships with both ESPN and FOX. I would also like to acknowledge the board's executive committee for its fine work during this process."
* Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds: "Today's announcement, coupled with the hiring of Bob Bowlsby as our league's new commissioner, is a great example of how well the Big 12 is positioned for the future. This contract ensures the Big 12 Conference will continue to be one of the premier conferences in the country."
* ESPN president John Skipper: "The Big 12 combines institutions known for excellence with passionate fan bases and rich traditions. This agreement gives us long-term stability, more games and more flexibility for when and how fans can see their favorite teams."
* Randy Freer, co-president of FOX Sports: "We're very pleased to continue our long-running relationship with the Big 12, clearly one of the most successful and esteemed collegiate athletic conferences in America. "This expanded partnership gives FSMG several Big 12 football games to showcase as part of our first-ever over-the air schedule on FOX, while also providing a substantial number of games for our other platforms. It's a win-win for everyone concerned."