The Big 12 has chosen WME Sports and IMG Media to lead its global broadcast, sponsorship and commercial strategy, in what will be a critical few years for the Power Five conference.
WME Sports and IMG Media, sister companies both owned by Endeavor (NYSE: EDR), will most critically help the Big 12 through its next round of media negotiations. The current contracts, which expire in 2025, pay the conference an average of $200 million per year, and the Big-12 recently announced that it was opening talks on a possible extension earlier than originally planned.
This same Endeavor team, led by executives Karen Brodkin and Hillary Mandel, recently helped the Big Ten conference secure a record-breaking set of TV deals from Fox, CBS and NBC.
“There are a lot of buyers out there, and college sports is top of the heap alongside the NFL,” Endeavor president Mark Shapiro said in an interview. “The demand for premium college sports has never been higher, and the Big 12 is extremely well-positioned.”
Terms of the agreement weren’t released.
The result of those media talks will be a big indication as to where the Big 12 fits in the new landscape of college sports, where the Big Ten and SEC have begun to separate themselves financially. The Big 12 is losing Texas and Oklahoma, its two most prominent members, to the SEC, but it is adding four more—BYU, Central Florida, Houston and Cincinnati. And more turnover could be in the works.
Last month the Big Ten announced its newest set of media deals will pay more than $1 billion per year, a record for a college conference. Brodkin, co-head of WME Sports, and Mandel, an EVP and head of Americas at IMG Media, spearheaded those deals, and will fill the same roles for the Big 12, alongside WME Sports SVP Mike Zavodsky.
In addition to media rights, Endeavor will be helping the Big 12 with international events, entertainment around championship events, original content, analytics, social media, NFTs, sports betting and other global sponsorship.
It will also need to be nimble as the make-up of the conference changes. The 10-team league currently has a footprint that spans five states with more than 41 million people. Once the pending reshuffle happens, it will cover eight states with a population of more than 78 million.
“The opportunity is massive,” Shapiro said. “And if we can add more schools that geographically fit into our programming windows, we’re all for it.”