If Notre Dame joins the Big Ten, the conference’s TV partners know the exact amount of extra money they’ll have to shell out.
Per John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, escalators related to Notre Dame (and only Notre Dame) are written into the conference’s media rights deals with CBS, Fox, and NBC, though the extra dollar amounts are not public knowledge.
That specific dollar figure, which is not publicly known, is spelled out in the contracts. No other school is mentioned in these deals by name, and the contracts do not assign a dollar figure to any other school that may join the conference, according to sources. Notre Dame is the only school that has specific language about escalators.
If non-Notre Dame schools join the Big Ten, “good-faith conversations” between the conference and its partners will take place to scale up the rights fees.
While we don’t know the exact amount, we can probably set a floor based on previous reports. Last month, CBS Sports reported that Notre Dame would require an annual media rights fee of $75 million to remain independent. Last week, The Action Network reported escalator clauses in the seven-year deals could increase the amount from between $7.7 billion to close to $10 billion overall. To get to that amount from Notre Dame alone, the escalator would have to tack on roughly $280 million per year, which seems excessive for one school.
Needless to say, there’s a wide range of possible values for the escalators if the Big Ten expands. I feel like NBC holds most of the cards here, because it can give Notre Dame more per season than the school would earn from the Big Ten, might pay less than it would if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten, and would control more inventory of games.
Anyway, I feel like it’s significant that Notre Dame, and only Notre Dame, is specifically listed in an escalator clause. It’s clear where the Big Ten’s potential expansion is focused.