The Big Ten’s TV rights negotiations continue to crawl along, though the finish line seems to be in sight.
Per John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, bids will be submitted this week by interested parties. Ourand says the “most optimistic” outcome is that a decision could be made “almost immediately,” though the “more likely” scenario would result in another round of bidding, dragging the process into August.
He also reaffirmed that the price tag for the Big Ten’s rights will exceed $1 billion, first reported earlier this year. Interestingly, Ourand claims that the additions of UCLA and USC to the conference could result in the rights fees increasing “more than 15%,” which would be (at least) another $150 million.
As for the interested parties, we know that Fox will continue as the Big Ten’s primary partner. Ourand reports that the additions have only nudged ESPN and NBC “to become more aggressive” in their attempts to acquire a piece of the pie, while Amazon and CBS are also still in the picture. Apple, who reportedly renewed their interest in the conference following the SoCal additions, “is not considered a serious bidder” for part of the Big Ten package.
Right now, it’s looking like ESPN and NBC are the clubhouse favorites to join Fox as the Big Ten’s media partners. NBC would be the big winner here, getting some of the conference’s inventory to pair with Notre Dame games. I’d tab CBS as the big loser, as Big Ten games would have been the easiest way to replace the SEC’s Game of the Week package. If CBS does lose out, the network would be forced to look at either the Big 12 (sans Oklahoma and Texas) or the Pac-12 (sans UCLA, USC, and who knows how many more schools), neither of which would seem to be in the same stratosphere as either the Big Ten or the SEC.