Big Ten excludes ESPN from media rights deal as it expands
August 9, 2022
As the B1G prepares to negotiate its next media rights deal, which will expire in 2023, several networks have expressed their desire to acquire a piece of the pie, with UCLA and USC possibly joining the group in 2024.
ESPN, however, is not among the groups expected to be involved in the negotiations. According to Sports Business Journal's John Ourand, NBC and CBS are the clear front runners to gain rights, with FOX remaining as the current B1G media partner.
According to Ourand, Disney's Bob Chapek, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, has strong ties to the B1G. As a result, ESPN could still be in the mix to acquire a package if it decides to leave the Big Ten.
"ESPN still is negotiating with the conference, and as long as they're talking there remains the possibility ESPN could wind up with a package," Ourand said. "If ESPN moves on from the Big Ten, look for the company to be especially aggressive in trying to secure Big 12 and Pac-12 rights, as well as renewing its deals with the NCAA Championships and College Football Playoff."
Replacement for ESPN
Ourand claimed that NBC and CBS are the front runners to acquire the Big Ten's TV rights. The networks are expected to partner with Fox if ESPN decides to leave the conference.
Despite ESPN's negotiations with the Big Ten, Amazon has reportedly offered to stream some of the conference's games. Negotiations are reportedly nearing their end, and Ourand said the deal could be announced as early as next week.
As the B1 G's primary rights holder, Fox has secured a significant portion of the conference's TV rights. It currently broadcasts a top game weekly at noon and has a 60 percent stake in the Big Ten Network.
Although the deals with NBC and CBS are not yet finalized, both networks are expected to split the secondary TV rights, allowing them to broadcast games at 3:30 p.m. and in primetime. Ourand also said that NBC would be able to stream a package of games through its Peacock streaming service.
Big Ten's expansion
For the past three decades, the Big Ten has been trying to add Notre Dame to its football program. The Irish have repeatedly rejected the league's advances.
Since the Big Ten was able to land UCLA and USC, many believe that the decision to add Notre Dame could be different this time. The Fighting Irish prefer a national schedule that allows them to be featured on various platforms. With schools such as New Jersey and Los Angeles joining the Big Ten, the league can offer that schedule.
Notre Dame also enjoys promoting its academic reputation and rich history. Both of these qualities could be very valuable to the Big Ten.
One of the biggest factors preventing the Fighting Irish from joining the Big Ten is its football schedule. Since it has been an independent program since 1887, Notre Dame would like to have the opportunity to determine its own game times.
If the Big Ten and NBC reach an agreement, it would be a huge development for the conference. Not only would it allow the league to lure Notre Dame, but it would also create a business partnership between the two organizations.
The Big Ten could leverage its relationship with NBC to add Notre Dame as a member of its football program. Doing so would allow the Irish to keep its own game times and ensure that it is represented properly in the league.