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Report: ESPN and CBS Renew Their Big Ten Television Rights, Joining Fox

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John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that ESPN and CBS have agreed to terms with the Big Ten conference to retain their remaining portion of the Big Ten's broadcasting rights.  CBS will televise a limited selection of Big Ten basketball games, while ESPN will take the rest of the Big Ten's primary basketball and football package, splitting their current package with Fox.

While Fox had reportedly agreed to pay $240 million a year for six years, ESPN is paying approximately $190 million a year. CBS will pay $10 million a year, which brings the agreement to approximately $440 million a season. In total, the package works out to $2.64 billion for the Big Ten.  That's $31.4 million per school per year for the Big Ten's primary and secondary rights - which doesn't include BTN's revenue.

Clearly, the revenue is close enough between the two sides of the package; ESPN's slight discount is offset by the assurance that ESPN won't be giving the Big Ten the ignorance the Worldwide Leaders shows to leagues that they don't broadcast, such as the NHL.


Ourand updated his article with some additional details. Fox will continue to have the rights to the Big Ten championship football game, and the two entities will split the rights as to which gets first choice of games. Fox will get first choice of picking a week where they will get first choice of games, and then ESPN will choose second.  ESPN's games will continue to be split between ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. ESPNU broadcasts will be much fewer in number moving forward.  That being said, since Fox's FS1 is typically fairly heavily booked with their other commitments, I'm sure some games will get relegated to FS2 or one of Fox's non-sports networks.

This past weekend, Fox had the rights to the US Open golf tournament as well as soccer, Major League Baseball and NASCAR racing. Some events ended up getting pushed to FX as well as Fox Business Network.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Fox utilize a similar strategy to accommodate their expanding college commitments.

Ourand also adds that when the Big Ten leaked word of their blockbuster deal with Fox, ESPN president John Skipper called Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany to "reengage" the conversation and quickly agreed to broad terms with the Big Ten.  The particulars of the deal have been worked out over the last month or so, and are being vetted by lawyers on all sides, with the hope of announcing this at Big Ten media days on July 26.