Big Ten Rights Deal Most Lucrative in College Sports History

Comcast announced that Peacock and NBC will “become the exclusive home of ‘Big Ten Saturday Night’ football” beginning in 2023. CBS and FOX also get a piece of Big Ten action in a rights deal that also includes basketball. The college mega-conference will reportedly reap more than $7 billion over seven years, beginning July 1, 2023. CBS and FOX will share the remainder of the Saturday football schedule, with FOX broadcasting the noon games and CBS (and Paramount+) getting mid-afternoon play. The arrangement concludes ESPN’s 40-year run of Big Ten football programming.

“With ‘Big Ten Saturday Night’ and ‘Sunday Night Football’ headlining each fall weekend in primetime on NBC and Peacock, along with our historic Notre Dame Football partnership, NBC Sports will be the home of premier games in college football and the NFL,” said NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua in the Big Ten Conference announcement.

NBC will produce 14-to-16 football games on broadcast television each season and also “simul-stream” them on Peacock, which will get eight additional Big Ten football games as well as 47 men’s and 30 women’s basketball games.

CBS will start with seven football games, increasing in 2024 to 15 regular-season football games (including an annual Black Friday afternoon game). CBS also gets regular season and postseason men’s basketball action, along with the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament final, a CBS first. The Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinals and final will continue on CBS, where they have aired for 25 years. Each CBS Big Ten football and basketball broadcast will also be streamed on Paramount+.

FOX has renewed its agreement to televise football and men’s basketball games each season, with the opportunity to carry additional sports throughout the year. FOX also gets the lion’s share of the Big Ten Football Championship Games, with carriage in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029. CBS gets the Championships in 2024 and 2028, and NBC in 2026.

The Big Ten Network (BTN) will also continue to televise a full slate of football, basketball and Olympic sports competition throughout the entire year, the Conference said.

TV Technology calls the agreement — which ends with the 2029-2030 season — “the most lucrative media rights deal in college sports history,” and says it comes at a time when the Big Ten is expanding, from 14 to 16 schools as “the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC) have announced they will be leaving the Pac 12 and their traditional west coast rivalries to join the Big Ten Conference in August 2024.”

Fierce Video cites a MoffettNathanson research note indicating “no signs of slowdown for top tier sports rights” but says lesser properties may suffer as media companies husband dollars for massive deals like Big Ten’s.

“The analysts noted the growing pressure of cord cutting and slower advertising growth but said ‘sports remains the glue to the media ecosystem.’ And college football will become a more valuable adhesive, especially at ‘conferences with stability and growing importance,’” Fierce Video writes.

Related:
Amazon Will Show ‘Thursday Night Football’ in Bars in DirecTV Deal, Bloomberg, 8/23/22