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With ESPN Out, Here’s How Your College Football TV Routine Will Change With Big Ten’s Brewing Media Deal




It looks like the Big Ten is about to finalize its new media rights deal. And according to Sports Business JournalESPN will not be a part of it.

SBJ reported Tuesday morning that ESPN has withdrawn from the negotiations. Without ESPN involvement, the Big Tens deal is expected to involve three entities: Fox, CBS and NBC.

Fox, which has a 60% stake in the Big Ten Network, would be the primary rights holder of the conference with CBS and NBC also part of the agreement.

It would represent a major shift in the media landscape, as ESPN’s first deal with the Big Ten dates back to 1982. In addition, ABC first released Big Ten games in 1966.

With ESPN out of the equation, a Big Ten Saturday might look like this: an afternoon game on Fox, a 3:30 p.m. game on CBS, and a primetime game on NBC. According to SBJ, Big Ten games would also air on FS1 and the Big Ten Network with Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, also in the mix.

Additionally, according to The Athletica streaming package from Amazon or Apple could also be part of the deal.

The long-negotiated deal, reportedly worth more than $1 billion, could be reached by the end of this week or next week, according to SBJ.

Big Tens’ current media rights deal expires in 2023.

FILE - The Big Ten logo is displayed on the field before an NCAA college football game between Iowa and Miami or Ohio in Iowa City, Iowa., Aug. 31, 2019. History and tradition?  Those terms play no role in what has essentially become a game of risk, with the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference taking turns rolling the dice to determine how the college football world is divided.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

According to multiple reports, The Big Ten is nearing completion of its new media rights deal. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

A lifeline for the Big 12 and/or Pac-12?

If ESPN does indeed participate in the Big Ten negotiations, a significant portion of the network inventory will pass. To fill that void, ESPN could turn to the Big 12 and Pac-12.

Both conferences lost key members in reshuffles with Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, and USC and UCLA leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. Without those members, especially in the case of Pac-12s, those conferences’ media rights aren’t nearly as lucrative as they once were.

Still, this should be seen as a positive development for the Pac-12, which started its media rights negotiation window early last month (the Big 12s deal expires in 2025). ESPN wants live sports to be broadcast, especially in the late hours. The Pac-12, if it stayed together, could certainly provide that with its remaining members.

With this deal, The Big Ten is turning the market upside down.

Thoughts on the CFP, Notre Dame and more

A few more thoughts:

  • ESPN is the sole holder of the SEC’s rights, and losing the Big Ten could provide further incentive to get Texas and Oklahoma into the SEC before 2025. You also wonder if ESPN would have an interest in pulling some strings to accelerate some sort of acceleration. of merger or partnership between the Pac-12 and ACC.

  • Would ESPN want to make deals with the Big 12 and Pac-12, or would some of the remaining Pac-12 teams like Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah make more sense in an expanded Big 12? I’m not sure if that would make the deal significantly more lucrative, but just having to bid for one conference is cheaper than two.

  • How will this affect the TV deal for the College Football Playoff? If the CFP expands, could we be moving towards a format similar to the NFL playoffs with games played across multiple networks, where the national title game rotates annually between networks, such as the Super Bowl? The current CFP contract expires in 2026.

  • Does NBC’s involvement affect Notre Dame in any way? We all know that the Big Ten would like to add Notre Dame, which has long maintained its independence. Will the fact that the Big Ten is now expanding to the west coast make Irish buyers more attractive to attend the conference?




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