Sources: Fox, Big Ten Closing In On Media Rights Agreement
Fox is close to signing a deal that gives it half of the Big Ten’s available media rights package, according to several sources. Deal terms still are flexible – both in terms of money and rights. However, the two sides have agreed on basic terms that will give Fox the rights to around 25 football games and 50 basketball games that it will carry on both the broadcast channel and FS1 starting in the fall of '17. The deal runs six years and could cost Fox as much as $250M per year, depending on the amount of rights the Big Ten conference puts in its second package.
The Fox deal essentially is half of the package of games that had been with ESPN (as part of a 10-year, $1B deal that expires next spring) and CBS (as part of a 6-year, $72M basketball-only deal that also expires next spring). The Big Ten will return to the market to solicit bids on the second half of the package. The conference has the flexibility to allow for another network or two to pick up that half. ESPN will be one of several TV networks engaged for the second half of the Big Ten’s package, along with the usual suspects of CBS, NBC and Turner.
The second package also is expected to include around 25 football and 50 basketball games. The package also could include rights to the football championship games every other year, though sources caution that the rights in the second package are flexible and could include more – or less – games.
Fox’ deal is a blow to ESPN, which had held most of the conference’s rights previously. Sources said that ESPN presented a non-competitive bid several weeks ago, as the company continues to look for areas to save costs. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Jon Barrett, the conference’s longtime legal counsel, negotiated the deal for the Big Ten, which did not hire an outside media consultant. Fox Sports President Eric Shanks and Exec VP/Business Larry Jones negotiated on behalf of Fox.