19 April 2016

Fox Sports reportedly to share Big Ten rights

The next high-profile television rights in the sports world to hit the market are that of the Big Ten Conference but thanks to some shrewd reporting from the good folks at Sports Business Daily, we now know one of the key pieces of the next package. Fox Sports will get half of the Big Ten's football and basketball package starting in the fall of 2017 as part of a six year deal worth $240 million each year.

SBD reported that about half of the package will give Fox the rights to 25 football games and 50 basketball games to be aired on either Fox or FS1.

Fox was widely expected by many to go hard after a piece of the Big Ten and considering their relationship with the conference as they own a controlling share of BTN and have aired the Big Ten Football Championship since its inception, it was easy to see how they could get in the mix. Also considering that they had partnered with ESPN on the Pac-12 and Big 12 football rights, and with ESPN also losing subscribers and eager to cut costs, I was expecting Fox to be in the mix somehow.

The other half of the package will now be something to watch out for. I still think that ESPN has to be the favorite to get the other half considering that it would be a pretty big blow to be completely shut out of the Big Ten completely but SBD did report that they presented "a non-competitive bid" for this piece of the package. Considering they are trying cut costs, could they get surpassed by a big bid by somebody else?

CBS, NBC and Turner were mentioned as other contenders but I would think that CBS and Turner are more interested in getting a slice of the basketball while NBC is a bit of a wild card considering that save for Notre Dame football, their college sports presence is virtually nonexistent.

But in the end, this is a big get for Fox Sports. To make FS1 a truly legitimate competitor to ESPN, they need to grow their rights profile and this certainly helps that cause. I think bigger than the football piece of the peal for Fox is the basketball piece considering that they only have the Big East right now and they have not drawn all that great thus far (although the ratings were up this season).

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