SAN FRANCISCO — The Pac-10, soon to be the Pac-12, agreed to a 12-year television contract with Fox and ESPN on Tuesday that will more than triple its media rights fees and be the most valuable for any conference in college sports.
The contract, which will begin with the 2012-13 season, will be worth more than $225 million per year, three people familiar with the deal told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been announced. The deal was first reported by Sports Business Daily.
The Pac-10 made less than $60 million in media rights this past season but became the latest conference to take advantage of the escalating market for college sports on television.
The ACC recently signed a deal for $155 million a year and the Big 12 reached a deal with Fox that made its total annual package worth about $130 million. The Pac-10, which will be renamed the Pac-12 in July with the additions of Utah and Colorado, topped those deals, as well as the $205 million the SEC gets and the $220 million paid to the Big Ten.
Under this deal, Fox and ESPN will split the rights to college football games. ESPN will air its games on cable as well as ABC and Fox showing its games on its broadcast network, basic cable network FX and on the Fox Sports Net regional networks.
Men’s basketball games will be split mostly between ESPN and Fox Sports Net, with ESPN also getting rights to some Olympic sports that will likely be aired on ESPNU.
The two entities will alternate showing the Pac-12 football championship game and the men’s basketball tournament. Fox, which will air the inaugural football title game this season, will have the first football championship under this contract in 2012, with ESPN getting the men’s basketball tournament later that season, a person familiar with the deal said.
Rights to some football and men’s basketball games have not been given out yet, giving the conference the opportunity to start its own network if it chooses. Along with increasing rights fees and exposure as this deal does, commissioner Larry Scott also went into negotiations looking to start a Pac-12 network to provide an outlet to broadcast non-revenue sports and to help brand the conference.
Finalizing a media rights deal is the latest step in the transformation of the conference under Scott, who took over from Tom Hansen in July 2009.
Scott spearheaded last year’s expansion effort and then got the schools to agree to an equal revenue sharing plan and aggregate all of their media rights at the conference level.
That set the stage for the television negotiations, which began in earnest April 1. While Comcast/NBC was an aggressive bidder and Turner Sports also was interested, incumbents Fox and ESPN won out.
This deal means full revenue sharing will kick in as soon as this contract begins. As part of an agreement to give up their historically larger share of television revenues, Southern California and UCLA were each to receive a $2 million premium any year that the media rights did not reach $170 million.