It’s been a busy week in the world of Big Ten media rights news.
Yesterday, we wrote about the conference’s plan to let ESPN’s exclusive negotiating window expire without a new deal. That’s always a signal that there’s enough interest to start a bidding war, in this case for a package hitting the market after 2023 that could generate over $1 billion annually.
Pretty much every player is involved, with ESPN/ABC and Fox wanting to maintain their current relationship, while CBS and NBC were cited as probable outside bidders.
Now there’s a report from Michael McCarthy at Front Office Sports that says NBC is very, very interested:
NBC Sports is expected to make a major push for the Power 5 conference’s rights, sources tell Front Office Sports. The Big Ten could command fees of up to $1.1 billion annually on the open market, said sources.
NBC views the combination of the Big Ten along with its existing deal with Notre Dame football as the “perfect one-two punch,” said one source. With its $100 million-per-year deal with the NHL off the books, NBC has the cash and ambition to boost its college portfolio.
“If I’m ESPN or Fox, I’m looking over my shoulder because NBC is going to go hard after the Big Ten,” said another source.
NBC offered a no comment that might as well have included a Jim Halpert-style glance at the camera:
“We don’t comment on specific strategies of our company, but we’re always interested in high-quality sports with wide appeal,” an NBC Sports spokesperson told FOS.
It makes total sense that both CBS and NBC would be interested CBS is losing their longtime SEC package to ESPN, while NBC has a vested interest in filling Peacock to the brim with content. For Fox and ESPN, it makes sense why they’d want to hang onto the package. This is the recipe for a big bidding war.