John Ourand broke the news yesterday that Fox is prepared to pay the Big Ten a boatload of money for some of the conference’s media rights.
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 channel and FS1 starting in the fall of ’17. The deal runs six years and could cost Fox as much as $250M per year, depending on the amount of rights the Big Ten conference puts in its second package.
The Fox deal essentially is half of the package of games that had been with ESPN (as part of a 10-year, $1B deal that expires next spring) and CBS (as part of a 6-year, $72M basketball-only deal that also expires next spring).
The money is eye-popping, yes, but the key item there is the deal’s six-year term. Why is that a big deal? Dan Wolken explains.
We’ll see where the final numbers come out, but it seems almost certain that Big Ten schools will soon be banking more than $30 million per year — a number that doesn’t even include what the conference makes off the Big Ten Network and digital rights. When it’s all said and done, it could be a $40 million distribution.
And the best part? If it’s a six-year deal, as Ourand reported, the Big Ten’s media rights will come up for bid again (and maybe again prior to that) before ESPN’s 20-year agreement with the SEC expires in 2034.
Delany is obviously betting that the market for broadcast rights will be just as hot in six years as it is today. If he’s right – and before you start down the “it’ll be an unbundled world by then, ESPN’s on the ropes, etc.” road, remember that we college football fans will need our fix in six years just as much as today, so all we’re really arguing about is the manner in which the drug will be delivered – imagine the way Greg Sankey is going to be pressed to react to the news of the latest deals the Big Ten strikes then as the SEC presidents are forced to make do (yes, I’m being sarcastic, but the presidents won’t be) with the 20-year deal Mike Slive left them saddled.
Then try to imagine the way Sankey negotiates his way out of the existing 20-year deal. Actually, that doesn’t take much imagination at all. Just think back to what Slive did when he renegotiated, which was to expand the conference by adding two new members, with all the attendant scheduling issues that brought with it. Along with the extra money, of course.
Can you say 16-team conference? I thought you could. Honestly, were I an astute school president with ambitions for my football program, I’d start working my way into getting Sankey’s attention and consideration in the next few years. Because this has the feel of inevitability to it. This aggression will not stand, man.