Jenny Taft interviews Ohio State head coach Ryan Day after a NCAA football game against Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: HawkCentral

Dating back to the Big Ten’s additions of Oregon and Washington—and Fox’s role in help facilitating those moves last summer—we’ve known that there would be more Friday night football games for the conference beginning in 2024.

Now we know what that might look like and how it could impact the TV landscape moving forward.

Earlier this week, The Athletic’s Scott Dochterman spoke with Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti. And as a part of that wide-ranging interview, it was revealed that the conference will have at least nine Friday night football games on Fox properties beginning in 2024, the same year that USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington will join the conference—up from the five Friday games for the conference in 2023 (plus a doubleheader on Black Friday).

“It’ll be significant in terms of the amount of national exposure that we have on Friday night on Fox,” Petitti told Dochterman.

While the Big Ten has featured select games on Friday nights since 2017, those matchups have primarily been featured on Fox’s secondary platforms, FS1 and the Big Ten Network. And they’ve mostly come during the early part of the college football calendar.

Petitti’s comments to Dochterman, however, seem to imply that Fox will be featuring more Big Ten night games on its broadcast network. And that’s a further indication of the potential for Fox to have a year-round Friday night sports showcase after WWE SmackDown leaves the network for the USA Network next fall.

As has been the case since the Big Ten first added night games six years ago, there are still quirks for the conference to work around. Those include Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa’s reluctance to play at home on Friday nights and Michigan’s refusal to play on Friday nights period.

But between the Buckeyes, Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes’ willingness to play road games on Fridays and the addition of four high-profile West Coast schools, the Big Ten should have more than enough firepower to meet Fox’s demand for more spotlight games—and then some.

If Fox is, in fact, striving to take over Friday nights with its live sports offerings, Big Ten football makes for a strong asset. And that’s especially true after the league’s West Coast expansion. Even if they don’t all air on Fox’s national channel, the prospect of the network now having nine games each season—or even more—certainly points to that being a strong possibility, if not a likelihood.

[The Athletic]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.