Bidding wars for broadcasting rights are always fascinating to watch. Look what’s happening with the NFL when it comes to what networks get in on the action. The price to broadcast NFL football is in the billions, and it’s easy to understand why networks have no problems agreeing to the hefty price tag since football is the most popular game in the United States.
Soon it is going to be time for the Big Ten to cash in. The conference is currently in a $2.64 billion dollar television deal with FOX and ESPN that will expire in 2023. In late 2020, the SEC agreed to a 10-year deal with ABC/ESPN that will give each member of the conference $40 million annually. By comparison, currently members of the ACC receive $17 million annually, while the PAC-12 schools get $21 million each year.
The Big Ten isn’t going to get as much money as the SEC did, but they could improve on the over $30 million they get each year from their current television contracts. With more money, schools around the conference could use that money to improve facilities, pay more to coaches, or bolster other areas that could strength the quality of play.
What lies ahead for then Big Ten when it comes to broadcasting rights? Will ABC/ESPN still be interested in the conference after ponying up so much for the SEC rights? Is the Big Ten all about that Big Noon life with FOX? Does CBS look to the Big Ten to replace the hole left by the SEC? Is NBC serious about adding Big Ten football to their college football lineup?
Today’s question: Which network would you like to see as the home of Big Ten?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: NBC
Really, I just want the Big Ten to go to any network that isn’t FOX. I hate what “Big Noon Saturday” has done to marquee games around the conference, as there has been a trend towards the best games around the conference being played at noon. Also, I would be elated to never have to listen to Gus Johnson call another Ohio State football game ever again. I don’t need a broadcaster treating a 2nd-and-4 play early in the second quarter like it’s the final play of a one-score game, but I guess that is Johnson’s gimmick.
You are probably thinking I’m crazy because I want the Big Ten to head to a company that just shut down NBC Sports Network at the end of 2021. I know some of the olds of the Ohio State fan base would go nuclear if you made them watch a game on Peacock, but that’s just the route the airing of sports seems to be going. Even though Peacock is far from a perfect streaming platform, at least they have had plenty of events that have a lot of viewers, so they’ll have some time to upgrade the quality before the start of a possible deal with the Big Ten.
Say what you will about the network’s coverage of the Olympics, there are areas where NBC has been tremendous when it comes to their sports coverage. Just look at what the network has down with the English Premier League. After the EPL bounced around in the United States when it came to their broadcasting rights, the EPL found a home at NBC in 2013.
It would be great to see some of the talent that would be used by NBC when it comes to the airing of Big Ten games. I can’t stand football pregame shows, but I would most definitely watch NBC’s pregame show if they had Rebecca Lowe host it, since she has done tremendous work in the EPL studio, and with Olympics coverage. Maria Taylor would also be great for that role since she already has experience with being a part of college football broadcasts from her time with ABC/ESPN.
An area that NBC would have to improve upon would be with the depth of their broadcast crews, especially if Notre Dame football was being broadcast alongside Big Ten football. Then again, it wouldn’t take much to top what FOX currently has since dead air is better than having to listen to Tim Brando. Filling out a roster for Big Ten broadcasts might not be that hard since NBC does have guys like Dan Hicks, Terry Gannon, and Kenny Albert on their Olympics coverage, with all of them having previous football broadcasting experience.
In the end, I’m just hoping that the Big Ten goes to NBC so we get a primetime game that runs past 11:30 which results in a bunch of nerds freaking out because the airing of Saturday Night Live is delayed. In that case, give me a seven overtime game and a camera on Lorne Michaels.
Meredith’s answer: Disney
This week brought a lot of nostalgia, because the network I’d want to see take over is Disney — which means, from a channel perspective, ABC and ESPN. Ohio State was always on ABC in the 1990s and 2000s. In fact, it was rare to be on anything but ABC until the Big Ten Network came to be.
With announcers like Brad Nessler, Chris Spielman and (dare I say it?) Brent Musburger, it was always a joy to watch games on ABC from noon to the afternoon kick to the impeccably done Saturday night game. Perhaps there’s also a tinge of bias here, since every single one of Ohio State’s games from the Buckeyes’ 2002 national title season was televised on ABC or ESPN. There are plenty of good memories to go around from watching games on this network.
Even College Gameday (the old days, mind you) was another feather in the cap of the family of networks.
Of course, as Elsa from Frozen reminds us, the past is in the past. Nessler moved over to CBS. Spielman went to FOX, and is now out of the broadcast game entirely. Musburger is with the Raiders doing play-by-play on the radio.
However, there’s a reason that Disney is so magical: They can put together a darned good production (like, for example, Frozen). They already have a deep bullpen of on-air talent between the current ABC and ESPN crews, and a deal with the Big Ten might incentivize the behemoth Walt Disney Company to reach into its deep pockets to pay up for the talent that has, in recent years, been poached away from the family of networks (we miss you, Maria Taylor).
Further, there’s the consideration that, of any of the major networks, Disney has perhaps the least involvement with the NFL: There’s a much clearer delineation between the professional and collegiate sides of the house and, for Disney, a seeming preference for the college game.
Monday Night Football is the only weekly NFL game hosted on the network, and is second only to Sunday Night Football in production value (first, perhaps, if you consider the Peyton and Eli addition). ABC is not part of the Super Bowl’s yearly rotation, and instead the network capitalizes on one-off events like the NFL Draft to connect its on-air college talent with its crew of analysts. Placing the Big Ten at the epicenter of this content would only serve to benefit the conference.