Big Ten Strikes New Rights Pacts With CBS, NBC, Fox; Drops ESPN

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Games featuring top college sports draws like Ohio State and Penn State and, in 2024, USC and UCLA will appear on properties owned by Fox, NBCU and Paramount Global under a new and lucrative deal struck with the Big Ten conference, underscoring the continuing importance of live sports to the economics of live TV.

The new seven-year deal, which starts in the 2023-2024 season, calls for the three media companies to pay the college conference in excess of $1 billion a year, according to reports. The Big Ten’s previous deals were with Fox and ESPN. Endeavor consulted on the Big Ten’s media rights and conference expansion.

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The pact will guarantee the conference TV real estate every weekend of college football season, with games slated to appear on “Big Noon Saturday” at noon; CBS’ 3:30 p.m. offering and a new slot, NBC’s “Big Ten Saturday Night,” in prime time. Streaming rights were also paramount in the discussions: NBCUniversal’s streaming outlet, Peacock, will also serve as the exclusive home for eight more Big Ten Football games each season. Every CBS game in the package will also stream live on Paramount. Meanwhile, the Fox Sports deal adds additional football and men’s basketball games to its networks, while increasing its top game selections. Fox will also put games on the Big Ten Network and Fox Sports 1.

“The Big Ten Conference media rights agreements are more than just dollars and deals. They are a mechanism to provide stability and maximum exposure for our student-athletes, member institutions and partners during these uncertain times in collegiate athletics,” said Kevin Warren, the commissioner of the Big Ten, in a statement. “We are very grateful to our world-class media partners for recognizing the strength of the Big Ten Conference brand and providing the incredible resources we need for our student-athletes to compete at the very highest levels, and to achieve their academic and athletics goals.”

Big Ten games were already a hot property. But the addition of USC and UCLA, two of the Pac-12’s flagship names, to the Big Ten in 2024 adds to their luster. The two schools revealed in late June they intended to change conferences.

In striking the new deal, the Big Ten has cut ties for the moment with Disney’s ESPN. The sports-media giant has been on a buying spree as of late, striking a new pact with the NHL and winning greater NFL rights in recent months. But with that spending has come scrutiny on price. ESPN and the Big Ten have been tied for decades, but in the near future the Disney sports titan will likely turn more readily to those conferences where it still has relationships: the SEC and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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