MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Your television viewing experience of Big 12 basketball could change this winter.
The Big 12 Conference has already made a steadfast commitment to streaming a large allotment of games on ESPN+. Eighteen West Virginia men’s basketball games will be streamed exclusively on the platform this season.
That’s not the only new-age broadcasting idea commissioner Brett Yormark and the conference are interested in.
“We will be industry leaders when it comes to broadcast enhancements and innovation,” Yormark said Tuesday, on the first day of the Big 12 Tipoff event in Kansas City.
In part, what he means by that is alternate broadcasts. The NFL is at the forefront of sports leagues in the United States at alternate broadcasts for games.
In partnership with ESPN and Disney, the NFL aired a “Toy Story” themed broadcast of the Oct. 1 game between the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars. The National Football League has done multiple Spongebob Squarepants-themed broadcasts on Nickelodeon over the past few years, including in the playoffs.
Non-traditional telecasts like this haven’t made their way to the college game yet. Yormark wants the Big 12 to be first in line when it happens.
“It’s something we’re working with our media partners on now, too. For us, it’s a way to introduce the game to a younger audience that typically isn’t watching it on a digital platform or a traditional linear [channel],” the Big 12 Commissioner said. “So, we’re exploring that option. I want to be the first conference to pursue that. And I’m very bullish that you’ll see some things this winter, and we’re going to do it through basketball.”
Yormark did not specify if the Big 12 will conduct its first alternate broadcast on a streaming service or linear television, nor did he specify if the first alternate broadcast will be for a men’s or women’s basketball game. It’s possible he is currently unaware of, or unable to share, those specifics.
What is clear is that basketball will be the driving force behind what the Big 12 does, not only with alternate broadcasts but with streaming and other inventive ideas, as well.
“Basketball is growing in popularity and resonates with younger audiences,” said Yormark.
According to the Big 12’s official website, 106 men’s basketball games are already set to be streamed exclusively on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. At least 66 women’s basketball contests will be streamed exclusively on ESPN+.
It’s clear it’s not just WVU men’s basketball interim head coach Josh Eilert, who is on board with the high number of streaming-only games.
“Streaming is certainly going to play a role in the future of this industry, as we all know, and volume is key to streamers,” said Yormark “Big 12 basketball and its depth provides that better than anyone.”