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Media Rights Will Drive Search For New Big 12 Commissioner

“Not only are the two biggest TV draws gone since the last rights deal, but the media landscape has changed significantly.”

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Bob Bowlsby announced on Tuesday that his time as commissioner of the Big 12 Conference is coming to an end. He did not give a specific date, but said that he would leave the role later this year. Naturally, that has plenty of people speculating about who may be next in line to take over.

The conference is certainly about to enter a whole new era of existence as its two most profitable members, Texas and Oklahoma, get set to depart for the SEC. BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston will all join the conference to get it back to 12 total members.

Nicole Auerbach, Matt Fortuna and Max Olson of The Athletic shared their best guesses on Tuesday. They were based largely on information they got from Lawrence Schovanec, the chairman of the Big 12 Board of Directors and president of Texas Tech University.

“Obviously, we will be looking for someone who’s very savvy in the media landscape,” Schovanec said. “The marketplace is evolving, and there are shifting pieces in all of this. You know, what is the ultimate mix of our linear and direct-to-consumer marketing agreements? At the same time, I think we all understand we seek somebody who has the ability to navigate and lead us through what occurs on a university campus, who understands the essence of intercollegiate athletics. So, it’s a mix of both, traditional experience but also making sure that we’re well-positioned as we begin to develop a media strategy.”

To his credit, Bob Bowlsby oversaw negotiations on a split television contract. The Big 12 is making $2.6 million in its current TV deal, which is shared between FOX and ESPN. It is set to expire after the 2024-2025 school year.

Whoever is hired as the conference’s next commissioner will be stepping into a very different world. Not only are the two biggest TV draws gone since the last rights deal, but the media landscape has changed significantly.

Would the Big 12 be an option for Apple or Amazon? If the conference wants to stay in business with ESPN, would the network insist that more games be ESPN+ exclusives? And then there is the question hanging over everything: without Texas and Oklahoma, what are the TV rights for the conference actually worth on the open market?

The PAC-12 faced similar questions in its search for a new commissioner last year and eventually landed on George Kliavkoff, who came from MGM Resorts International. Auerbach, Fortuna, and Olsen all see the Big 12 going a more traditional route, listing sitting athletic directors and school presidents among their most likely candidates.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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