The Big Ten won’t be leaving ESPN for another network. The conference re-upped with ESPN, signing a six-year deal worth $190 million per season for just half the rights. The other half of the conference’s rights are going to Fox Sports, which is paying the Big Ten roughly $240 million per each season.
CBS also is sticking with the Big Ten, renewing their hoops-only package for $10 million per year. Put it all in a blender, and you’ve got a six-year, $2.64 billion rights deal for the conference that averages $440 million per season. That’s nearly triple than the $150 million per year ESPN alone was paying this past season, and more than four times the $100 million ESPN was paying when they started their current contract with the conference in 2006.
Sports Business Daily also notes some of the important, less mainstream details of the contracts, most notably that the Big Ten Championship Game will remain on Fox and that Fox gets the first choice of which games to air.
The difference between the two packages is that Fox Sports will carry the Big Ten football championship game every season, which is a strong draw each December. Fox also will have game selection advantages over ESPN, which almost certainly means that the coveted Michigan-Ohio State rivalry will move to Fox most years.
Before each season, the networks will pick the weeks where they get first choice of games. Fox will have the first pick every year; ESPN will have the second; Fox will have the third, and so on.
ESPN will carry Big Ten football games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. ESPNU will see far fewer Big Ten games than it has in the past.
Like Fox, ESPN will air 25 football games and 50 basketball games in their half of the package, while the semifinals and finals of the Big Ten basketball tournament will remain on CBS with their new deal with the conference.
Now that the Big Ten’s media rights are taken care of, what’s next? The most significant property coming up for renewal is the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package, which is currently being split between CBS and NBC. The NFL doesn’t seem to be keen on a long-term deal for that package, but it will still cost any interested outlets a pretty penny because it’s the NFL.
In two years, IndyCar, the UFC, and the UEFA Champions League are all on the market, and none will likely command a contract package that extends into the billions – though the UFC sure as hell wants to believe it will. And then, we wait for the 2021 apocalypse, when the NHL, MLB, and NFL will all be on the market.