Fox retains Big Ten’s primary TV package; details, other partners still in works

We’re about a month to six weeks away from the Big Ten finalizing its next media-rights deal, which will take effect in the fall of 2023.

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Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is leading the conference’s negotiations for new media-rights deals.

Doug McSchooler/AP

We’re about a month to six weeks away from the Big Ten finalizing its next media-rights deal, which will take effect in the fall of 2023. Fox, which has majority ownership of Big Ten Network, will retain the primary package, but the details and other packages are being negotiated.

Everyone wants a piece of the action. CBS, ESPN/ABC, NBC, Warner Bros. Discovery, Amazon and Apple are in the running. Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is leading the talks, and he’s looking to meet fans where they are. That means fans can expect one or two more broadcast deals and an initial foray into streaming. Of course, it all starts with football.

CBS will lose SEC football to ESPN/ABC in the fall of 2024, opening the 2:30 p.m. window for the Big Ten. ESPN/ABC doesn’t want to lose the Big Ten’s drawing power, but making room might become an issue. NBC could make Big Ten games part of a doubleheader with Notre Dame and air them on Saturdays without the Irish. The new Warner Bros. Discovery, Amazon and Apple are growing their sports portfolios.

Negotiations likely will come down to who offers the most money – insiders think the deals could total close to $1 billion annually – but don’t expect a streamer to have a significant package. The Big Ten likely will dip its toe into the streaming waters, perhaps with some nonconference basketball games that would have appeared on B1G+, the league’s in-house streamer of non-televised events.

Despite the Big Ten’s longstanding relationship with ESPN/ABC, the conference might not find scheduling to its liking as the broadcaster commits to the SEC across all of its networks. The leagues could end up siloed, the SEC on ESPN/ABC and the Big Ten on Fox and another outlet.

The Big Ten’s chancellors and presidents hired Warren with these negotiations in mind after his success turning around the business fortunes of the NFL’s Vikings. He’s looking for networks who will do the most to promote the conferenceand be good partners. Writing a big check certainly wouldn’t hurt.

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