Big Ten lands $7 billion, NFL-style TV deals with Fox, CBS and NBC for football and basketball games

The Big Ten’s new $7 billion media rights deal will air 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 that it has reached seven-year deals with Fox Sports, CBS and NBC to share rights to conference football and basketball games.

The agreements will take effect in 2023, expire in 2030 and eventually allow the universities that will soon be 16 conference members to share more than $1 billion per year, 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 did not disclose financial details publicly, but the deal is believed to be the richest in annual terms for a college sports property. The big increase in conference revenue will not begin until the third year of the deal and will gradually increase over the last five years.

“I think what it does, it gives us an opportunity to make sure that we can continually do the things that we need to do to take care of our student-athletes, strengthen our institutions, build our programs,” Kevin, the Big Ten commissioner. Warren told the AP.

The Big Ten currently has 14 members, stretching from Rutgers and Maryland on the East Coast to Nebraska in the Midwest, covering some of the largest 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 their presence.

With ESPN out of the equation for Big Ten soccer after a 40-year relationship, the league is poised 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 the Big Ten Network, will continue to feature 11 a.m. Central as its main game of the day.

Fox and its FS1 cable network will have the rights to more than two dozen soccer games, at least 45 men’s and women’s basketball games.

CBS, beginning in 2024, will replace the 2:30 p.m. Central Eastern Conference game of the week, which will move to ABC, with a Big Ten game.

CBS will broadcast 14-15 Big Ten football games per season from 2024-29, including a Black Friday game. Unlike its long-standing deal with the SEC, CBS will not be guaranteed the first pick of football games each week with the Big Ten. Fox, CBS and NBC will hold a draft for the games, allowing each network a few shots at the top pick in any given week.

In 2023, CBS will broadcast seven Big Ten games while still having the SEC on CBS at 2:30 p.m. The network will continue to be the home of Big Ten men’s basketball, including the conference tournament semifinals and finals, and will begin airing the championship of the women’s basketball tournament.

“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, president of CBS Sports. “And I think the money is fair. It is unprecedented. They’re the biggest deals in college football history.”

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Beginning in 2023, NBC will air “Big Ten Saturday Night” in prime time and air 15-16 games per season. The deal with NBC also includes eight football games and dozens of men’s and women’s basketball games per season that will air exclusively on Peacock, the network’s online subscription service. NBC also has a long-standing, separate broadcast deal with Notre Dame, which remains unaffiliated with a conference.

Each network will broadcast the Big Ten championship football game at least once over the duration of the deals, with Fox securing the rights to four (2023, 2025, 27 and 29).

Warren spent more than two decades working as a front office executive for three NFL teams. He said the Big Ten’s vision for its new broadcast deal was inspired by an NFL Sunday, with three consecutive featured games on three networks, broadcast from 11 a.m. to nearly midnight.

“I thought where we were in the Big Ten, we had a unique opportunity because we have the institutions that could do it,” Warren said. “We have the avidity of the fans. We have the breadth, we have the historical foundation, that we were in a position to really do something unique with three powerful brands at Fox, CBS and NBC.”

The Big Ten’s lineup with three traditional networks shows that while broadcast might be the future, linear TV isn’t dead.

“It may be dying in certain respects,” said retired former Fox Sports Network president Bob Thompson. “You could say things like scripted dramas, sitcoms. But for sports and news, it has never been stronger.

“Conferences or leagues are a little bit hesitant to make a big jump from the wide, wide distribution of broadcast television. Now you’re going to jump into the streaming service, which in the big scheme of things, the numbers are still relatively small in terms of how many people watch and use them.”

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