The Big Ten is on the cusp of television deals that are expected to pay it in excess of $1 billion and create a college football triple-header featuring Fox, CBS and NBC. If the agreement goes through, ESPN will be out of the business of Big Ten football and basketball for the first time in 40 years.
In pursuit of money, universities and conferences are uprooting traditional rivalries and regional loyalties.
The decision by UCLA and USC to join the Big Ten further consolidates power within two college conferences and escalates the rivalry between their two biggest media partners, Fox and ESPN. The Big Ten said Thursday that the schools, which have large fan bases and famous histories in football and basketball, will join the conference in 2024. Their arrival will benefit Fox Corp., which owns 61% of the Big Ten Network through a joint venture and just renewed its deal with the conference.
Less than a month after the Southeastern Conference made an expansion power play by inviting Texas and Oklahoma to the league, three of the SEC’s Power Five peers countered with an alliance of 41 schools that span from Miami to Seattle.
The Big Ten’s Maryland-Ohio State matchup this weekend has been canceled, joining a slate of SEC games already on the sidelines because of COVID-19 positive tests. Maryland-Ohio State was nixed after the Terrapins paused team activities Wednesday while announcing that eight players had tested positive. The game will not be made up, which could have crucial implications for major power Ohio State’s national championship aspirations in an already-shortened season.
The Big Ten announced that its Council of Presidents and Chancellors has voted to allow the league to play football this fall. The Big Ten will open its season on the weekend of Oct. 24 with teams playing eight games in eight weeks and a Big Ten Championship Game scheduled for Dec. 19, sources tell CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. That would make the Big Ten eligible for the College Football Playoff as the final CFP Rankings announcement of the season is set or Dec. 20.
The standoff between the two companies threatened to leave Comcast customers in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin without cable access to some of their teams’ games.
ESPN will buy the second half of the Big Ten’s media rights package, ending months of speculation that the two were about to sever their 50-year relationship. ESPN will pay an average of $190 million per year over six years for essentially half the conference’s media rights package, according to several sources close to the talks.
Fox is close to signing a deal that gives it half of the Big Ten’s available media rights package, according to several sources. Deal terms still are flexible — both in terms of money and rights. However, the two sides have agreed on basic terms that will give Fox the rights to around 25 football games and 50 basketball games that it will carry on both the broadcast network and cable’s FS1 starting in the fall of ’17. The deal runs six years and could cost Fox as much as $250 million per year, depending on the amount of rights the Big Ten conference puts in its second package.