It’s official: Big Ten signs new deals with Fox, CBS, NBC; freezes ESPN out


Peacock to get big boost as number of games increases. Also: HBCU games go to CBS’ twelve non-primary affiliates 

The reports were circulating but now it’s official: The Big Ten has re-upped with Fox Sports, while striking new deals with Paramount Global  and Comcast’s NBCUniversal for CBS and NBC/Peacock, respectively as first reported by Sports Business Journal. The Fox pact also includes FS1 and Big Ten Network, as Fox owns a 61 percent stake.

Running through the end of the current decade, the new Big Ten deals are worth $8 billion – roughly $1.1 billion per year – and includes college football and basketball. As expected, ESPN is the odd one out in the Big Ten’s game of musical chairs, without a seat at the table – or even a chair. 

Starting with the 2023-24 television season, The Big Ten will have three marquee games every Saturday with Fox getting the Big Noon (11 a.m. CT) kickoff; CBS getting the middle 2:30 pm CT game; and NBC getting the nightcap though a start time has yet to be announced (it would have to be early enough not to interfere with Saturday Night Live as we’ve seen problems with this in the past.) NBC will also continue to air Notre Dame football home games in prime time during some weeks. 

With CBS remaining committed to carrying SEC football through the end of its contract in December 2023, the network and the Big Ten will work around scheduling conflicts, meaning they’ll get only seven games in the first year of the contract. 

The breakdown of the deals are as follows: 

Fox remains the primary football rightsholder, getting rights to key matchups including Michigan vs. Ohio State. Fox and FS1 will carry 30 games a year.

CBS gets fifteen football games a year, while NBC gets anywhere between fourteen and sixteen a year.

NBC’s Peacock gets eight exclusive football games a year and simulcast all NBC primetime games

Peacock also games exclusive college basketball contests, both men’s and women’s – up to 77 games, with CBS getting the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Championship.

All three with shares the Big Ten Championship Game with Fox getting all odd years (starting in 2023) while CBS and NBC share the even years.

CBS and Fox gets expanded Big Ten basketball rights, and brings NBC back into the college basketball fold. NBC carried the main package of college basketball games (including the NCAA Tournament and Championship Game) from 1969 to 1981. After losing the package to CBS, NBC carried NCAA basketball on a sparse basis until 1998, when the games were phased out. (The former NBCSN did carry Atlantic 10, CAA, and Ivy League games as those contests moved to USA Network this year.)

All CBS games will be streamed concurrently on Paramount +, but no exclusive rights.

Fox gets to keep Ohio State-Michigan in new media rights deal. ( Tony Ding/AP)

The new deals reflect the addition of USC and UCLA in 2024 from the Pac-12 – and from the second-largest TV market in the country, Los Angeles. The Big Ten is now the only NCAA conference with teams represented in the top four TV markets in the country: New York (Rutgers), Los Angeles (USC and UCLA), Chicago (Northwestern and Illinois), and Philadelphia (Penn State). If you add in Washington D.C. (with Maryland), you have six out of the top ten.

“To be able to create this lineup of games on linear channels – the word that comes to mind is home run,” former Fox Sports President Bob Thompson told Sports Business Journal. “It’s like the anti-streamer package. This is huge for all of these local stations. Then you’ve got the ability to promote and cross-promote these games across the channels.” Fox, CBS, and NBC all own stations in the top four markets.

“From a television standpoint it totally cements the Big Ten as having a national footprint,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus told the Los Angeles Times. “[Having USC and UCLA] makes the selection process easier, because you now have two teams with a great national following and a West Coast presence, and it delivers to us the second-largest television market in the country. So from a value standpoint, the conference is more valuable with USC and UCLA in it.”

Meanwhile, the deals leaves ESPN out for the first time in 40 years, though there is still a chance for ESPN to carry a few games.

In other college football media news, Allen Media Group (headed by Byron Allen) struck a deal with CBS-owned duopoly stations in twelve markets to carry HBCU football games starting next month – clearing stations such as independents WLNY New York and KCAL in Los Angeles. The games are all streaming through the HBCU Go app, available on Amazon, Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV. Allen also struck a deal with other station groups to carry games as well, including Nexstar, Scripps, and Gray among others covering 60 percent of the country and 70 percent of black households.

No linear TV clearance in the Chicago area has been announced.

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