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The Big Ten earn over $1 billion a year in record TV deals

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The Big Ten Conference has reached the highest-paid television deal ever for a college sports league, selling the rights to the competition for an average of at least $1 billion a year.

The seven-year deal, announced Thursday, is worth at least $7 billion over the life of the deal, cementing the Big Ten as one of the nation’s preeminent college sports leagues. It also promises to intensify the debate about how to treat athletes who are not.

The deal reflected the television network’s desire to capitalize on America’s enormous appetite for sports, and came at a time when college athletics was very turbulent.

That said, the elite league is still cash-rich, and last month there was a more open discussion about whether players should get cuts, joined by Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh. However, the conference has not moved in that direction, resisting calls to classify athletes as employees.

Now, the Big Ten are borrowing from the strategy the NFL has relied on to become North America’s richest sports league, without worrying about possible windfalls bringing new pressures. It will be split across three broadcast networks, with Fox, CBS and NBC each offering their own popular time slots.

Beyond turning the Big Ten into football scheduling powerhouses, the sheer value of the deal gives the league and its members a measure of stability over the next few years. Minimize expiring meeting agreements.

The Big Ten deal gives Fox, a major shareholder of the Big Ten Network, access to the league’s flagship football game, which already includes 14 colleges, including high-profile brands such as Michigan, Ohio State and Pennsylvania State. Seeking to own more. Southern California and UCLA will be added in 2024. Fox will also broadcast the game on Big Ten Network and FS1.

But unlike Disney and the Southeastern Conference, which ceded rights to the web of platforms including ABC and ESPN, The Big Ten chose to reach agreements with broadcasters other than Fox.

CBS, whose long relationship with the SEC is coming to an end, will eventually return Saturday afternoon hours, known for games from Southern football heaven, with games from Big Ten hotspots such as Nebraska and Wisconsin. fill the frame.

NBC chooses Big Ten contests to air, often in prime time, to expand college sports offerings beyond the Notre Dame Home games already broadcast under a separate contract with colleges . NBC’s streaming his platform, Peacock, will also air Big Ten matches.

“The Big Ten is on network television from noon to 11 p.m. most Saturdays, and this is unprecedented,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, adding that he was drawn to the Big Ten. rice field. As a “true national conference” even before the addition of UCLA and USC was planned

The Big Ten did not disclose specific financial terms, but four people familiar with the negotiations spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the deal and discuss confidential negotiations.

In addition to soccer, the deal covers men’s and women’s basketball and all other conference-sponsored sports, including baseball, softball and volleyball.

However, football pushed the negotiations forward. Fox was clearly poised to remain the Big Ten’s primary broadcast partner, and the fight centered around how other media companies would divide their conference portfolios.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in an interview about negotiations involving Amazon, Apple, ESPN and WarnerMedia: Discovered this year.

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Since President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, the station has been associated with the Big Ten and has had a significant impact on public perception of sports in America. Introducing other top leagues such as the SEC and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Universities make money from sports in myriad ways, but the most important source of sports revenue is broadcast rights. The conference typically handles negotiations (the National Collegiate Athletic Association is responsible for national postseason basketball) and distributes funds to member schools.

In less than 20 years, Big Ten schools have split less than $200 million in inflation-adjusted media royalties annually, according to a database run by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and Syracuse University. I got

The Big Ten entered negotiations with the ambition of signing a record contract, but those prospects were strengthened this summer when they pulled UCLA and USC out of the Pac-12, which will take effect in 2024. We may add more schools, and the new contract includes a mechanism to increase the value of conference ranks if they grow.)

The conference will continue to rely on a top-level football game on Saturday at noon Eastern Time. This is encouraged by how the slots draw fans into the meeting orbit early.

“To get ready for the game at noon — no matter what food you put in the cooking pot, no matter what tailgating you’re doing, where the kids are going, driving, or going to the game. Are you coming by car — we’ll have to make those decisions on Friday,” critics said after the Big Ten originally canceled the 2020 football season due to the pandemic. Warren, who had a stint, said.

Warren, who has worked with NFL franchises for decades, said, “The sooner we create an environment where we start getting into your heart, the better.

The Big Ten makes far less money than the NFL, which is valued at more than $10 billion a year in media rights, but the conference agreement marks the first time a college league has secured contracts averaging at least $1 billion a year. is.

Over the next decade, the NCAA’s contract for the Division I men’s basketball tournament, the centerpiece of the March Madness spectacle, will swell to about $1.1 billion annually.

More soon, the Big Ten deal will expand its joust with the SEC for business and sports supremacy.

In 2020, the SEC announced it had struck a deal with Disney for the league’s top-shelf football game, moving from CBS after the 2023 season, adding to a relationship already worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Before the SEC decided to add Oklahoma and Texas starting in 2025, new contracts, even narrow ones, were worth about $300 million a year.

In an interview this summer, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said he doesn’t regret the timing of signing the league’s top game. In July, rumors circulated that CBS was nearing a costlier deal than his Big Ten primary partner, and Sankey said the network “made a decision that didn’t live up to our expectations.” pointed out.

“I think it’s a bit inexplicable, but that was their decision,” added Sankey.

McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, said this week that his network and Sankey conferences have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship, saying, “Part of their success and growth is directly tied to the CBS broadcast window. He said he expects the Big Ten deal to “pay us more in dividends than the SEC deal.”

“We looked at the value the Big Ten brings to us and the scale of the nation, and this deal made a lot of sense for us,” said McManus. “The deal we were discussing with the SEC didn’t make a lot of sense to us.”

However, the field has another football season unfolding before the new Big Ten contract begins. SEC heavyweight Alabama ranks him #1 in preseason polls. Ohio, the pride of the Big Ten, is second.