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The Big Ten reached agreements with CBS, Fox and NBC for a television rights deal that will begin in 2023 and go through the 2029-30 season, the conference announced Thursday.
The conference did not release financial details, but the Associated Press and other outlets reported the contracts are worth a combined $7 billion.
Here are five early takeaways of what this could mean for Iowa football and the athletics department as a whole:
1. Iowa (and its Big Ten peers) will have a massive financial advantage over schools from other conferences.
A $7 billion media rights deal for seven years — roughly $1 billion per year to split up among 14 teams in 2023 and 16 teams in 2024 and beyond — is quite the win for Iowa and other Big Ten athletics departments.
The SEC’s deal with Disney, the owner of ESPN and ABC, is worth $3 billion for 10 years starting in 2024. That equates to about $300 million per year for the 14-team conference, which will expand to 16 teams with the additions of Texas and Oklahoma in 2026.
That also means the Big Ten can be especially picky when it comes to realignment.
There are schools that would undoubtedly add value to the Big Ten, with Notre Dame likely at the top of that list.
But the new media deal shows the soon-to-be-16-team Big Ten already has plenty of value without the addition of any more schools.
With the SEC and ACC already committed to media rights agreements, a scenario where the Big Ten does not have the superiority in TV money over the next decade seems unlikely.
Of course, the landscape of collegiate athletics frequently changes.
2. Big Ten football’s top games will receive a lot of exposure.
With an 11 a.m. (CT) time slot on Fox, 2:30 p.m. time slot with CBS and a prime-time game on NBC, the Big Ten’s top games of the week will have similar TV exposure on Saturdays to what NFL teams are accustomed to on Sundays.
As long as Iowa football can remain in the upper tier of the Big Ten, that means a lot of eyes will be on the Hawkeyes.
3. The lack of ESPN participation in the deal might be inconvenient, but it’s certainly not an insurmountable problem for football and men’s basketball.
Once ESPN doesn’t have a stake in the Big Ten, it doesn’t have as much incentive to show Big Ten football teams on SportsCenter and its other studio programming.
But that’s not nearly as much of a problem as it might’ve been 20 years ago.
The NHL is perhaps the most notable example of a league succeeding despite ESPN not devoting airtime for it, but it’s not the only one.
At the collegiate level, the Big East is a smaller case study.
When the reformed Big East reached an agreement with Fox Sports in 2013, ESPN did not exactly shine a spotlight on the then-10-team league. But the non-football league sent more than half of its men’s basketball teams to March Madness in three of the last five tournaments.
Plus, the Big Ten, with some of the most recognizable brands in collegiate athletics, will likely be a lot harder to ignore.
4. The annual Iowa-Nebraska football game, if it remains on Black Friday, could have a lot of attention.
CBS will pick up a Black Friday game every year, beginning in 2024.
In 2020, 2021 and 2022, the only Black Friday game in the Big Ten has been Iowa-Nebraska. The game was on Fox in 2020 and on Big Ten Network in 2021. It will be on BTN again in 2022.
The 2021 renewal of the Iowa-Nebraska rivalry was the most-watched football game in Big Ten Network history, so it might be an appealing option for CBS to keep as the Black Friday game.
CBS airing future Iowa-Nebraska games would give a significantly larger audience for the rivalry than in the years when it’s been on BTN.
5. The deal is an obvious win for football. It’s not so clear for women’s basketball.
The money coming into the conference from Fox, NBC and CBS — depending on how Iowa chooses to spend it — could obviously give Iowa women’s basketball an advantage in resources.
But the exposure for women’s basketball under the new deal is not a guaranteed upgrade, based on what was included in Thursday’s announcement.
CBS will broadcast the final of the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament — a plus for the sport.
Fox has the “opportunity to carry additional sports” aside from football and men’s basketball, but Thursday’s announcement did not include any women’s basketball commitments for the channel.
NBC’s Peacock streaming service will carry “as many as” 30 women’s basketball games — 20 Big Ten games and 10 nonconference games.
Peacock has 13 million paying subscribers, per TechCrunch.
ESPN, in comparison, has a reach of 76 million households through traditional television, according to a 2021 Deadline report. Its streaming service ESPN+ has 22.3 million subscribers, per ESPN’s website.
If Fox picks up several women’s basketball games, it could make up for not having the airtime on ESPN’s family of networks.
But barring a surge in Peacock subscribers, the women’s basketball commitments included in Thursday’s announcement alone do not make up for not having ESPN on board.
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