The Big Ten is poised to deliver a stunner when it concludes its media rights negotiations sometime in the next few days. Barring a last-minute surprise, ESPN is not expected to land one of the Big Ten’s packages, a source with direct knowledge of the negotiation confirmed to. The Athletics.
In addition to Fox, which locked up Big Ten rights months ago, the conference will likely partner with both CBS and NBC. Such deals, if finalized, could result in the following Saturday slate: a noon ET game on Fox, a 3:30 pm ET game on CBS and prime time on NBC. Multiple sources involved in the negotiations have reiterated over the past month that the Big Ten has prioritized exclusive windows during the process.
Sports Business Journal first reported the developments and noted that ESPN is still negotiating with the Big Ten, so there’s still a chance the network will end up with a package. If ESPN doesn’t end up with some Big Ten football and basketball games in this negotiation, it will be historic. ESPN has carried Big Ten games for the past 40 years; it shared rights with Fox in the current deal, which expires in 2023.
The Big Ten also expects to add a streaming package, though it’s not yet clear whether that will go to Amazon or Apple, a source said. The Athletics. Both companies have significantly increased their investment in live sports programming in the past year.
Here’s what we know about the possible options:
How ESPN losing the Big Ten impacts its battle with Fox
If the Big Ten were to move on from ESPN, this would add enough fuel to the fire brewing between ESPN and Fox. ESPN has exclusive rights to the SEC, and Fox would have main rights to the Big Ten – so, the rivals would each support a different horse because the two 16-team conferences are ready to withdraw from their peers before the end of the. a decade What might this mean for programming decisions? Framing? Future media rights tied to an expanded College Football Playoff?
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren opposed early efforts to expand the CFP last winter, in part because CFP expansion before the end of the current contract (which expires in 2026) meant ESPN would have an exclusive negotiating window. Warren has long advocated for the CFP to have multiple media partners, something many in the industry assumed Fox was getting involved with.
Everyone I’ve talked to in and around the Big Ten over the past few months has emphasized the league’s desire for exclusive windows. I asked if there could be too many partners for a bond to have & was told no.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) 9 August 2022
What Warren envisioned for college football’s premier postseason event is similar to the NFL playoffs: Multiple media partners broadcasting different rounds and investing more in their coverage of the sport throughout the year to support this.
What does this mean for the Pac-12, Big 12 and Our Lady
If ESPN doesn’t get a Big Ten package, you’d have to think this bodes well for both the Pac-12 and Big 12, whose rights will come next. The Pac-12 opened its exclusive negotiating window with ESPN early in the aftermath of USC and UCLA‘s move to the Big Ten.
What is perhaps just as – if not more – interesting is how Notre Dame fits into these developments. Could NBC’s relationship with the Big Ten help push the Irish into joining the conference? With longtime rival USC and a footprint that now stretches from Los Angeles to New York, the Big Ten believes it has never been more attractive to the independent Irish. The checks the conference is about to hand out to its members thanks to this new media deal won’t hurt either. Multiple outlets have reported that the Big Ten is looking to eclipse $1 billion in rights fees per year in its new deal.
The effect on future conference realignment
The Big Ten’s decision to add USC and UCLA earlier this summer sparked another wave of superconference speculation. Although the SEC and Big Ten will both be at 16 members each by 2025, the expectation across the industry is that neither league will remain at that size forever.
But there has been no major movement since that news in late June. The Pac-12 is starting to work through its media deal and figure out what it’s worth to partners without the LA schools. That’s probably the next important piece of the puzzle, as will any kind of contractual relationships that bind schools like for example Oregon, washington and Stanford to the Pac-12 for a specified period of time. The Big Ten chose to add just two schools back in June. Now that the media deal is almost done, could it look more into the possibility of a western wing? If the Big Ten really wanted to, it could look to both the Pacific Northwest and the Bay Area. That could yield the conference inventory for Saturday’s late-night TV window — a fourth window, for those keeping track at home — and also allow for easier travel opportunities for all sports for the LA schools.
Could the new media deal and relationship with NBC convince Notre Dame to make a move? The Big Ten would surely act quickly if that became a possibility.
These potential decisions did not need to be made and locked in before the Big Ten signed this agreement. Multiple people involved in the process told The Athletics that they expect that the contracts of the league include triggers that would either take into account renegotiation in the event of a conference membership addition or would further adjust the payouts automatically in such an event.
Where might a flowing package land and what might it look like?
Scott Dochterman, college football staff writer: Big Ten officials were lukewarm about a streaming-only option because of the risk of alienating fans as it did when BTN launched in 2007. Those administrators grew more comfortable with streaming potential during the late spring and early summer.
The NFL debuts a weekly package on Amazon Prime starting this fall, Apple TV airs an exclusive MLB game on Friday night and MLS inked a 10-year deal with Apple TV starting in 2023. Other college leagues have streaming options as part of its media arrangement but not an exclusive package. Amazon Prime has long been considered the favorite to pick up the Big Ten’s streaming rights, but Apple TV re-entered the conversation following USC/UCLA’s June 30 expansion announcement. NBC’s Peacock could also become a standalone streaming option if the linear network wins. Big Ten package.
How could watch windows play?
Daughter: An industry source said Big Ten officials reached out to school administrators this spring about reviewing options for a Friday night or mid-to-late November prime time slot. Currently, the Big Ten schedules four Friday night kickoffs with only two outside of Labor Day weekend.
The league’s media rights agreements with Fox and ESPN allow for network-controlled primetime scheduling through the first weekend in November. From the second weekend on, both schools must agree for a game to move to prime time. However during the pandemic in 2020, arrangements were made for additional late November peak time starts. By adding UCLA and USC, weather won’t be as big of an issue for prime-time kickoffs as it is in the Midwest and East Coast.
It appears that the Big Ten will air games in all three coveted windows: noon, 3:30 pm and prime time on linear networks Fox, CBS and NBC, respectively. FS1 and BTN, of which Fox owns 61 percent, will also broadcast start times. Big Ten officials have asked schools to consider joining Iowa-Nebraska as a second Black Friday option, which could now be in play with USC and UCLA joining the league in 2024. To this point, all have declined.
(Top photo: Aaron Doster/USA Today)