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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.

Sports TV News

FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts

“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

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FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.

“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.

“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”

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Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC

“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.

“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”

Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.

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Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”

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FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.

The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.

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