Big Ten makes like NFL with media-rights deal

Starting in 2023, Big Ten football will air on three broadcast networks — Fox, CBS and NBC — in three windows on Saturdays. Despite the migration to streaming, linear TV still holds power.

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The Big Ten’s big stage got a whole lot bigger with a seven-year media-rights deal spread across CBS, Fox and NBC. It includes Big Ten Network and FS1, as well as streaming services Paramount+ and Peacock.

Starting with the 2023 football season, Saturdays will have Big Ten games at 11 a.m. on Fox, 2:30 p.m. on CBS and in prime time on NBC. The Big Ten will share CBS’ window with the SEC in 2023 before the SEC moves exclusively to ESPN/ABC.

The Big Ten football championship game will alternate networks for the first time. Fox will air it in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, CBS has it in 2024 and 2028 and NBC in 2026.

CBS needed this deal the most because it risked losing Power Five college football once the SEC leaves. NBC adds to its Notre Dame package, giving it the potential for big doubleheaders. It also increased its inventory for Peacock, which will air eight exclusive games. CBS will simulcast its games on Paramount+. But the deal shows that broadcast TV still holds power, despite the migration to streaming.

The deal, which reportedly is worth more than $7 billion, the biggest annual payout in college sports history, keeps the Big Ten in NFL territory as the only other sports property with at least three broadcast partners. When UCLA and USC join in 2024, the Big Ten will have schools in the three biggest U.S. markets – New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – which likely helped raise the price.

Basketball is a big part of the deal, as well. CBS will air the Big Ten women’s tournament final for the first time and continue to air the men’s semifinals and final. Peacock will deliver as many as 47 men’s games and 30 women’s games. Fox, FS1 and BTN also will have ample schedules.

The deal marks the first time ESPN won’t have Big Ten rights, ending a 40-year relationship. Big Ten teams still might appear on the network if they’re playing a nonconference foe under ESPN’s umbrella. Plus, ESPN still holds the rights to the College Football Playoff.

Whether “College GameDay” ever returns to a Big Ten campus is uncertain.

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