First thoughts on the Big Ten TV deal

Yes, I get that it’s a shit ton of money.

Like I said, a shit ton of money.  But, man, at what cost?

The Fox-CBS-NBC triumvirate will provide the Big Ten with an NFL-like lineup of games on over-the-air TV.

“The goal was to own each of these windows,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, the former Vikings COO who used the NFL as a model for the Big Ten’s own rights negotiations. “To capture the hearts and minds and the fan avidity, I think you’ve got to make it very simple for your fans. So, I always had this visual, especially coming out of the NFL, that we’d have partners in each one of those windows. And then we’d have some special events, like two games on Black Friday.”

Is it just me, or does “make it very simple for your fans” simply translate into making it easier to capture casual viewers?  Because, let’s face it, that’s where college football has been headed in a commercial sense for a while now.  And the proof would seem to be in the pudding with this deal here.

That being said, I can’t help but think of an argument the NCAA and schools raised during the O’Bannon litigation.

At their core, Dennis’ findings indicate fans would be greatly disappointed if college athletes were paid and many fans would shift their time, energy and dollars to other endeavors. For instance, 69 percent of Dennis’ respondents expressed they’d probably stop going to games. He also determined that if “star” college players were paid more than other college players, 73 percent of the public would identify “less fairness in balance of competition” in college sports. Dennis also found that if college athletes were paid $20,000 a year, 38 percent of the U.S. public would be less likely to view or attend college games. The percent rises to 47 percent and 53 percent when the proposed pay increases to $50,000 and $200,000, respectively. Collectively, these numbers cast a dark light on how fans would regard compensating Division I men’s basketball and football players.

Now there’s a take that didn’t age well, unless you assume that the business model in play here expects larger amounts of money to be paid for smaller audiences.

Finally, there’s a quote from Kevin Warren that made me raise my eyebrows.

“I think what it does, it affords us the opportunity to make sure that we can continually do the things we need to do to take care of our student-athletes, to fortify our institutions, to build our programs,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren told the AP.

Now, you can dismiss this as simply another disingenuous “doing it for the kids” plug.  Given the track record of folks like Warren, that’s entirely understandable.  But what if this is the rare case where it’s not?

Matt Hayes:

The bigger move on the horizon — one that will change college football and bring distinct division and strife within the 130 FBS teams — is the expanded Playoff.

A Playoff that will, by the time a 16-team structure and format is complete, be worth well over $1.2 billion annually. Playoff revenue that will lead to direct pay-for-play for players.

“(University) Presidents are desperate for revenue because they can’t hold (pay-for-play much) off much longer,” an industry source told SDS. “After they’ve all worked their own conference (media rights) deals, there’s only one revenue stream left to supplement players.”

“We have to get ahead of (pay-for-play),” a Power 5 athletic director told SDS. “We didn’t with NIL, and now we’re all kind of scrambling to make it fit universally. There has to be a clear path this time (with pay-for-play).”

That is something I, too, wonder about.  In a sense, it’s the final frontier for where all those additional broadcast dollars are going to be put to work.  Sure, Jimmy Sexton won’t be missing any meals, and, yes, there are facilities to be built, but that sort of spending grows more and more marginal.  What wouldn’t be marginal would be schools paying players to play.  And if you’re in a conference at the top of the college football revenue food chain, it’s the most efficient way to provide separation between you and the schools that aren’t.  Which is the vast majority of the P5 (using that term ever more loosely these days).

I’m not saying it’s guaranteed we’re headed there.  But it’s not illogical to suggest we are.



Filed under Big Ten Football, It's Just Bidness

25 responses to “First thoughts on the Big Ten TV deal

  1. One thing the B1G can’t do is change demographics and weather. The migration south is going to continue to occur, and the weather still sucks for much of the college year. Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania high school football continue to fall further behind Florida, Georgia, Texas and California (with places like Alabama and North Carolina getting better).

    Their only response will be whether they can pay better.


    • Environmentalists are predicting it will be so hot across the Southeast by 2050 that essentially everyone there will die. So maybe CBS was reading their stuff.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Down Island Way

      When channel surfing during the season (currently suffer from low tolerance for commercials syndrome), should mine remote find a meaningful snow covered field with the stadium full at the 2-3 minute mark, I’ll watch till the end (unless UGA is playing)…


  2. Anon

    If ESPN gets machine gun Kelly to sing the opening tv song for weekly 330 game I’m finally done.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. SEC moving from CBS to ESPN is like a funeral for me. This. Is. Awful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The SEC has no one to blame but themselves. If they cared about anything other than the money, they would have understood the value associated with the CBS relationship.

      The only hope is that the prime time ABC game will fill the void.

      Liked by 1 person

    • PTC DAWG

      Is the game on tv? That’s my only question.

      Liked by 1 person

    • kokainmothershed

      The Dawgs will still be playing football on a major network with top-notch coverage, ladies & gentlemen. Sure, CBS has been “tradition” for a few Dawgs games per season, but its not like the Dawgs are changing mascot or school colors. I have a hard time believing people are truly pining for Gary Danielson or a certain number to be displayed on a cable box.
      Back in the 80’s, the NFC was on CBS and the AFC on NBC. When FOX took over the NFC rights, Falcons, Giants, Bears, 49ers fans didn’t suffer…even though they had to endure alternative theme music to the telecast.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Looks like the BigX presidents threw in the towel on the whole academic mission, traditions, etc. theme with the hiring of an NFL guy in Warren. Preparing for pay-to-play is going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fall of Rome….

    Liked by 2 people

  5. beatarmy92

    It is inexorable. The players will be paid, officially become employees, and collectively bargain. I think the student/employee designation will be fascinating to watch regarding eligibility. In this future state why would Stetson, for instance, be ineligible to play QB for UGA forever?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Fox-CBS-NBC triumvirate will provide the Big Ten with an NFL-like lineup of games on over-the-air TV.


    The leading streaming services drew more viewers than cable TV for the first time in July, according to a report released Thursday by the media firm Nielsen.


    The NFL has parity due to its draft, salary cap, and limited rosters. That gives them at last a handful of reasonably competitive games to put in key windows each week. That plus fantasy football’s explosion and traditional gambling becoming mainstream makes the NFL a prize TV partner. The NFL also doesn’t compete with a similar (or better) product at the same time in the same TV window.

    NBC and CBS just ponied up a ton of money to put Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers football on broadcast television. I know broadcast TV still carries some cache compared to cable, but it’s only a matter of time before Paramount+ and Peacock Premium and whatever Fox is cooking up will demand three different subscriptions to watch its product in places that have limited OTA access.

    If you live in Athens, GA you don’t have the big four networks OTA. Atlanta is too far away, so you either have cable, satellite, or streaming. Ann Arbor, MI has to get its signal from Detroit, which is outside of solid signal range. Columbus, OH has a FOX affiliate, but has no CBS and NBC is probably out of range. University Park, PA (Penn State) is on the outskirts of good signal range for NBC and CBS and doesn’t get FOX.

    I guess it becomes a chicken and egg argument. Will Indiana football become a national phenomenon because it will be on broadcast TV like the Braves on TBS, or does the product need to be compelling first because of the ubiquitous nature of college football being on TV all of the time?

    I think the B1G got a heck of a deal, and I think CBS and NBC got railroaded. I think the end result will be longer commercial breaks, a running clock to keep within the TV window, and a worse football experience all the way around because the networks will have to get their money back somehow.

    College football is dead. Long live college football.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Tony BarnFart

      Only good thing about going to a game in Knoxville is that you can get TV with just a tiny antenna because they have broadcast towers right there.


  7. 69Dawg

    The Mouse has a counter if they will use it, put games on ABC all day Saturday. Get what’s left of the Big12/10/? and Pac 12/10/? and go up against the B1G. They should have enough “inventory” to get more eyeballs than Maryland

    As to paying the players, this will split college football into two groups and I’m not sure all the P5 can handle it but for sure the G5 and below can’t. So the NFLlite is coming and who’s in or out will be interesting. Mean time the B1G can just shut the F up about academics, that ship has sailed.


    • Morris Day

      “put games on ABC all day Saturday”
      As long as the contract doesn’t stipulate the number of games that can be on ABC. Anyone wanna bet they’re not stupid enough to hamstring themselves this way?