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More Speculation about the Next Big Ten Television Contract

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Since we last reviewed the future of the Big Ten's television contract, both Frank the Tank and Matt Sarzyniak have chimed in on the topic...specifically Fox's interest in the next Big Ten deal. Fox would seem to be a natural bidder, as they've been aggressive in expanding their footprint in college sports as well as their partnership in ownership of BTN.

There's one little problem with Fox; Fox's existing commitments to Major League Baseball, NASCAR, the Big East, Big XII and Pac-12 means that Fox doesn't have room to acquire all of the rights that ABC, ESPN and CBS (basketball) currently have.  That probably won't stop Fox from trying to pursue a deal, but likely, Fox would only be pursuing part of the deal.

Sarzyniak did propose a couple of interesting ideas to move some of Fox's existing contracted broadcasts to other networks. The idea is to move some Big XII games to Fox Sports 2 and most of the Big East basketball package to CBS and CBS Sports Network. Novel idea, but I fail to see how the Big XII or Big East would agree to this move.  Fox Sports 2 only reaches 39% of the nation; I can't imagine that CBS Sports Network is significantly higher than that. Perhaps those conferences don't have a say in that decision, in which case, Fox might be in the clear.

The biggest benefit of Fox's involvement might be to ensure that ESPN and CBS have the incentive to make strong bids, even in this age of cord-cutting. Maintaining the status quo of timeslots would be easy for the networks to accomodate; I'd argue that CBS has a greater ability to add football timeslots than Fox. CBS's only football commitment is for a single SEC game each week; the only question is how interested is CBS in expanding their college footprint?

Certainly that's something Jim Delany is investigating, if only to explore all of the Big Ten's options. The money will almost certainly be there, so it may come down to who offers the best exposure.