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ESPN’s Relationship With Big Ten Conference Ends: Report

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Wisconsin

The Big Ten is reportedly done doing business with ESPN for the first time in 40 years.

Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported that the conference is on the verge of a deal that could see its remaining football and basketball rights go to either CBS or NBC, which appear to be the front-runners.

ESPN said no to the conference’s final offer of a 7-year/$380 million per-year package, according to SBJ.


Fox already has an agreement in place with the Big Ten for what Ourand wrote is the conference’s ‘A’ media package. That gives Fox the rights to a football game over the broadcast network at noon eastern, plus football games on FS1 and Big Ten Network. Fox has a 60 percent stake in the latter.

Should the Big Ten agree to a deal with either CBS or NBC, it would be for the remainder of those rights and it would likely shut ESPN out completed. The network signed its first deal with the Big Ten in 1982.

CBS currently has a contract with the SEC for its main afternoon game, but that deal expires in 2023 and those rights will revert to ESPN. That leaves CBS without college football programming on its broadcast network.

As for NBC, the network’s only college football package is for Notre Dame’s home games. The network reportedly wants to expand its offerings and offer ‘shoulder programming’ with Notre Dame. That would also allow NBC to offer more money for Notre Dame’s broadcast rights, as the Irish are eyeing deals that would net them $75 million per year.


ESPN already has long-term deals in place with the ACC and the SEC. ESPN is negotiating with the Pac-12 and has future negotiations with the Big 12 Conference for a new TV deal.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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