Big money coming for Big Ten: Basketball stands to hit TV jackpot with next deal

Not that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany wants to rush time, but I’m fairly certain that he can’t wait for the 2016-17 basketball season.

That’s when the Big Ten’s TV deals for basketball conclude with ESPN and CBS. Based on what the new Big East got from Fox Sports 1 this week, you know Delany is anxious for his turn at the bargaining table.

The new Big East (comprised of the Catholic 7 and additions like Butler) landed a 12-year, $500 million with Fox Sports 1. It could rise to $600 million if the conference goes to 12 schools.

That’s a huge haul for a conference whose best TV attraction probably is Georgetown. Marquette, St. Johns, Villanova, Seton Hall, and even DePaul (if the Blue Demons can regain old glory) also have decent brand identification.

However, as a whole the new Big East doesn’t compare to the new Big Ten, which will grow to include Maryland and Rutgers.

This year, the Big Ten produced the two most watched college basketball games on ESPN (Indiana-Michigan and Indiana-Michigan State), and four of the top five on CBS.

According to Kristi Dosh of, here is what the Big Ten’s current TV deals are worth:

First-tier rights: $1 billion, ESPN, 10 years through 2016-17.
Second-tier rights: $2.8 billion, Big Ten Network, 25 years through 2031-32.
Select basketball rights: (minimum of 24 games, men’s tournament semifinal and championship games): $72 million, CBS, six years through 2016-17.

The Big Ten stands to get a hefty increase, especially on the cable side.  And the commissioner will have some help from his good friends at Fox.

Fox, which owns 51 percent of the Big Ten Network, is going to be an aggressive player for college basketball rights, as demonstrated by the Big East deal. Executives know the quickest way for Fox Sports 1 to compete with ESPN is to acquire premium live programming. Big Ten basketball is premium.

NBC Sports Network could be in the mix to make a major move by then. It needs to increase its premium inventory beyond the NHL.

Delany also has the leverage to move more games to the Big Ten Network, which is coming off a big year.

Nothing works better than a competitive environment to boost TV rights. You can be sure Delany is counting the days until the bidding begins.





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