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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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The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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