Monday, Oct. 03, 2022|
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The Big Ten has announced its new, seven-year media rights deal with Fox, NBC and CBS that is believed to be the richest ever struck with a college sports conference. A person familiar with the contracts tells The Associated Press that the conference’s soon-to-be 16 member universities eventually will share more than $1 billion in revenue per year. Starting in 2024, when USC and UCLA join the conference, Big Ten football Saturdays will be structured similar to the NFL. That means three marquee games being carried in consecutive time slots on three different major TV networks.
The Big Ten’s new $7 billion media rights deal will string the conference’s top football games across three major networks each week, creating an NFL-style television schedule on Saturdays.
The Big Ten announced Thursday it has reached seven-year agreements with Fox, CBS and NBC to share the rights to the conference’s football and basketball games.
The deals go into effect in 2023, expire in 2030 and eventually will allow the conference’s soon-to-be 16 member universities to share more than $1 billion per year, pushing the total value of the agreements past $7 billion, a person familiar with the terms told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Big Ten and network officials were not disclosing financial details publicly, but the deal is believed to be the richest ever on an annual basis for a college sports property. The large increase in revenue to the conference won’t kick in until the third year of the deal and gradually will increase over the final five years.
“I think what it does, it affords us the opportunity to make sure that we can continually do the things we need to do to take care of our student-athletes, to fortify our institutions, to build our programs,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren told the AP.
The deal sets a new benchmark in the college sports arms race, which is based heavily on TV money. The Southeastern Conference has a deal with ESPN that starts in 2024 and is also worth upward of $7 billion, but over 10 years. That deal was announced before the conference moved to expand to 16 schools with the additions of Texas and Oklahoma.
The Big Ten currently has 14 members, stretching from Rutgers and Maryland on the East Coast to Nebraska across the Midwest, and covering some of the biggest media markets in the country, including New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.
In 2024, Southern California and UCLA are scheduled to join the Big Ten, adding the Los Angeles market to its footprint.
Former Fox Sports President Bob Thompson said adding teams from the second-largest media market in the country (5.8 million homes) had to make the conference even more appealing to TV networks.
Plus, the West Coast schools should help increase what conference can make off its cable network in that part of the country.
“The economics of that alone are rather large,” Thompson said. “If you get 3 million people all of sudden get the Big Ten network as part of their expanded basic (cable package), that’s $3 million a month. Compared to what they had been getting which is like $3 million a year.”
With ESPN out of the equation for Big Ten football after a 40-year relationship, the league is set to lock down three prominent time slots with its network partners.
Fox, which has shared the rights to the Big Ten with ESPN since 2017 and owns a majority stake in BTN, will continue to feature noon Eastern time as its primary game of the day.
Fox and its cable network FS1 will have the rights to more than two dozen football games, at least 45 men’s basketball games and women’s basketball games.
CBS, starting in 2024, will replace the Southeastern Conference game of the week at 3:30 p.m. Eastern — that is moving to ABC — with a Big Ten game.
CBS will carry 14-15 Big Ten football games a season from 2024-29, including a Black Friday game. Unlike with its longtime SEC deal, CBS will not be guaranteed the first selection of football games each week with the Big Ten. Fox, CBS and NBC will hold a draft for games, allowing each network some opportunities for first selection in a given week.
In 2023, CBS will carry seven Big Ten games while it still has the SEC on CBS at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. The network will continue to be the home of Big Ten men’s basketball, including the conference tournament semifinals and finals, and it will begin airing the women’s basketball tournament championship.
“When we did our financial analysis, and looked at the major markets — even before USC and UCLA — and the national footprint of the Big Ten, it was a very attractive deal for us,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports. “And I think the money is fair. It’s unprecedented. They’re the largest deals in the history of college football.”
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