What Exactly Are Tier Three Rights? - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

What Exactly Are Tier Three Rights?


The hot phrase of the week around West Virginia is tier three rights. But, do you really know what tier three rights are? We sought the help of Big 12 Associate Commissioner Bob Burda to help answer that question.

"Tier three rights consist of rights to television content or rights to sporting event content that has been passed over by our television partners," Burda said. "Tier one is over-the-air broadcast rights. Tier two is considered cable television rights and tier three is member retained rights."

Sounds simple enough, but how does it work? At what point does a member institution get control of its tier three rights?

"Our television partners, ABC, ESPN and FOX depending on the sport and season have rights to our content," Burda said. "Once they make their selections, any games that are not selected by broadcast by the Conference's television partner revert back to the host institution for exploitation in their local television markets."

How an institution chooses to utilize its tier three rights is entirely up to the respective school. For example, The University of Texas created the Longhorn Network.

"Member schools can put together their own network where they can either sell those rights to local affiliates for broadcast, or in the case of the Longhorn Network, have their own network to air those contests," Burda stated.

There is a lot more inventory, or games, during basketball season for the television networks than there is for football. So tier three rights pertain mostly to sports other than football, but the Big 12 did find a way to preserve some tier three rights for their member institutions when it comes to the gridiron.

"In the case of basketball, our television partner will make its selections by the end of July or early August," Burda explained. "Any unselected games go back to the member institutions. In football, the way it is going to work moving forward is that every game is guaranteed for broadcast, every home game that we have the rights to. One game will be designated for the member institution. FOX will designate which game that is after analyzing each team's schedule. That game then reverts back to the institution to sell or they can sell that game back to FOX."

Big 12 Administrators and Athletic Directors point to the television agreement and tier three rights as one reason for stability in the conference.

"What it has done is created additional revenue stream for our institutions so they can monetize sporting events that are not selected for television through the conference's broadcast rights," Burda said. "Those rights have been freed up significantly under the television contract. Under the old contract, any games that were not selected were warehoused by FOX and then the school would need approval by FOX to show those games in their local market."

That is not the case now.

The Big 12 proved to be a bit of a pioneer in relation to tier three rights. The Big 12 was formed 16 years ago and became the first conference to reserve tier three rights for its member institutions.

"It has been a cornerstone of the Big 12 since the inception of the league since it formed in 1996," Burda stated. "It is a model that has really differentiated us from our peer conferences. Other conference's bundle all their rights and go through the conference office for exploitation through the conference's television rights of agreement so any unselected games are warehoused."

The new Big 12 television agreement is expected to fetch roughly $20 million per school before tier three rights are factored in. WVU is preparing an RFP (Request For Proposal) to entertain bids for its tier three rights. WVU is in no rush and not expected to begin using the winner of the bid until next September. So, no huge changes are expected for radio broadcasts or coaches' shows that currently air on the radio and television around the state.

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