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Leading US media outlets CBS, Comcast’s NBC and Fox have agreed to pay around $7.5 billion over seven years to show Big Ten college sports, according to a person familiar with the matter, a record deal that the ongoing broadcasters’ willingness to pay underscores premium quality for live sports.
The rights agreement will begin next year and will run throughout the 2029/30 university sports season. Its value is likely to increase when two famous universities in Los Angeles, the second largest media market in the United States, join the Big Ten in 2024.
The addition of the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California will make the formerly Midwest-centric Big Ten — whose members currently include the University of Michigan, Ohio State University and the University of Nebraska — a Prima Costa a Coast make collegiate sports conference, increasing the value of its media distribution rights.
The three media companies’ rights cover American football, a significant number of games in the United States, along with a full roster of collegiate sports such as basketball and Olympic sports such as swimming.
“Great sports, from professional to collegiate, continue to prove their worth,” Peter Bevacqua, president of NBC Sports, told the Financial Times. The terms of the agreement allow NBC to show American football on both prime-time television and its proprietary streaming network, Peacock, with additional games and sports becoming available through the subscription streaming service.
Bevacqua said the program would be an “incredible shot in the arm for Peacock” at a time when media companies are trying to attract viewers for digital direct services, but added that the Big Ten’s total rights value “it was” a testament to the power of linear television”.
In the past year, the US $14 billion collegiate sports industry has seen a tremendous upheaval. A Supreme Court decision last summer sided with student-athletes on their governing body, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and paved the way for an easing of restrictions on athlete sponsorship. This has prompted universities like USC and UCLA to consolidate their power in competitive conferences like the Big Ten while the NCAA reconsiders its governance model.
“The media rights deals at the Big Ten conference are more than dollars and deals,” Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “They are a mechanism to provide stability and maximum presence for our student-athletes, member institutions and partners during these uncertain times in athletics.”
According to Bevacqua, negotiations for the Big Ten’s media rights were already underway when USC and UCLA announced their exits. “I would tell you that we were incredibly motivated and 100% interested in making it happen before [the moves],” he added.