Big Ten logo The logo of the Big Ten Conference is seen on a yard marker during Iowa Hawkeyes football Kids Day at Kinnick open practice, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. 210814 Ia Fb Kids Day 109 Jpg

The Big Ten media rights negotiations appear to be nearing a conclusion, and with ESPN reportedly on the outside looking in.

John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports on Monday night that “CBS and NBC have emerged as the clear front runners to pick up Big Ten rights alongside Fox Sports.”

That was soon followed by a report from Brett McMurphy of The Action Network that the Big Ten is “finalizing” media rights deals with Fox, CBS, and NBC.

In April, Ourand reported that Fox was set to be the Big Ten’s main media partner going forward. In the months since that report, it’s mainly been a question of what additional network(s) are also part of the conference’s media rights.

So, Fox will have the Big Ten’s “A” package, and Ourand reports that CBS and NBC are in the lead to split the “B” package.

The conference’s deals with CBS and NBC are not finalized. But it looks like the two networks are in the lead to split a “B” package. CBS would pick up games for the 3:30pm ET window, and NBC would carry games in primetime. NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, also would wind up carrying some games.

ESPN being left out of the Big Ten rights would certainly be an eye-opener. As Ourand and McMurphy note, ESPN would be without Big Ten basketball and football games for the first time in 40 years. ABC even showed Big Ten games beginning in 1966.

But ESPN shouldn’t be counted out until the deals are final.

According to Ourand, “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 reports that “[Big Ten media rights] agreements could be reached by the end of this week or push into next,” so we should get concrete answers on these deals very soon.

Update: Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that it’s expected CBS will “pay in the $350 million per year neighborhood for the 3:30 [pm ET] Big Ten games.”

[John Ourand; Brett McMurphy]

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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