Welcome to the debut edition of “Three Things To Watch”! Ordinarily, this article will focus on three areas that I will be paying close attention to during each week’s Ohio State game, such as specific offensive or defensive tendencies.
As Ohio State is still one week away from kicking off its 2022 season against Notre Dame, I felt that this was as good a time as any to focus in on the newly-announced Big Ten media contract that will go into effect starting in the fall of 2023.
While the money is certainly grabbing everyone’s attention, and rightfully so, there are a few things about this contract that have me speculating on what they may mean for Ohio State and B1G fans in general. Below are “Three Things” that I will be watching as it relates to the new B1G media contract.
1.) FOX will continue to show their premier game at 12 noon ET — What Does That Mean For Ohio State?
Ohio State is a big draw for FOX and “Big Noon Saturday,” no doubt about it. Yes, there are many Ohio State fans who get annoyed at what seems to be a perpetual time slot of 12 noon ET with the Buckeyes on FOX, but will that change in 2023 and beyond?
Yes, to a certain extent. Keep in mind that the new media partners will include CBS, with a 3:30 p.m. ET game, as well as NBC, which will air a prime-time game. How the new contract works — which is the same way as the conference’s current contract works — is that all of the rights holders participate in a draft in which they select which week they want to have the first pick of games.
FOX will maintain the No. 1 pick every year as part of their Tier 1 package. That pick will almost certainly be for the final week of the season every year, so OSU vs. TTUN is likely to remain on “Big Noon Saturday” for the duration of the deal.
However, after FOX’s first pick, the other two broadcast partners will have the chance to pick their weeks. In the current contract, the draft is just between just two broadcasters — FOX and ESPN — but beginning in 2023, three networks will be involved, meaning that the Buckeyes will undoubtedly have their games spread around.
While Ohio State is certainly the jewel of the B1G, there are several other top programs within the conference, and FOX will want to show games involving those teams on “Big Noon Saturday” as well.
Using this upcoming season as an example, FOX is going to televise the Oklahoma at Nebraska game on Sept. 17. The point here is yes, Ohio State will probably be on a lot at 12 noon ET on FOX, but the other media partners in the deal, are also going to get opportunities to televise the Buckeyes also. And that leads me to my second point...
2.) The B1G Will Be on at Night in November
For many years, B1G fans have grown accustomed to having no night games during the month of November. With this new contract, CBS and NBC are going to have time slots to fill with B1G teams. Yes, I know that 3:30 p.m. ET is not a night game for CBS, but by the time games conclude around 7 p.m. ET in November, it will effectively be nighttime. And NBC’s promotion will be for a Prime Time kickoff, so we are definitely talking after the sun goes down.
NBC will launch ”Big Ten Saturday Night” beginning next fall and will air 15-16 games per season. Neither the network nor the conference has guaranteed how many of those games will air in November primetime slots, but certainly, some of them will.
Of course, once UCLA and USC (and perhaps Oregon and others) join the league in 2024, that will give NBC opportunities to air west coast games in primetime east coast slots.
However, similar to what I wrote up above, the possibility that Ohio State will be involved in night games — especially as the November calendar adds to the sense of urgency related to a B1G conference championship berth or possibly playoff seedings (more on that momentarily) — seems likely.
3.) Look For Multiple Networks in the Expanded College Football Playoff
ESPN will not be happy about it, but this contract with the B1G by FOX, CBS, and NBC is probably going to result in those aforementioned networks having opportunities to televise what will be an expanded College Football Playoff field.
Where the final number of participants lands remains to be seen, but look for the B1G and commissioner Kevin Warren to make sure that their broadcast partners are well-represented at the negotiating table for televising these contests.
Many fans found it curious when the Big Ten essentially vetoed the expedited playoff expansion during the off-season. But, if that would have happened, it would have given ESPN expanded access to locking down the CFP rights. That decision from the B1G now makes much more sense knowing that the league will no longer be in business with the worldwide leader after this season.
That is it for now. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below, or by sending me a tweet @ChipMinnich.
Next week, I will look at “Three Things To Watch” from Notre Dame in the 2022 season opener. Until then, let’s cue the music for the 2023 season of Big Ten football on CBS...