Big Ten TV deal not all it appeared

And the new commish is having to clean up the mess his predecessor left him.

Among the issues:

  • The Big Ten was selling off rights it did not actually control. Fox controlled everything through the Big Ten Network, and will continue to do so through 2029-30.

  • NBC was told it could have prime time night games in November. Big Ten schools had obtained prior agreements that they didn’t have to play night games in November due to weather, health and logistics, among other things. The recently announced game between Sparty and Penn State in the Lions’ roofed stadium in Detroit is an attempt to correct this, and the Suckeyes have also agreed to play an early-November game at home vs. Sparty.

  • The B1G is having to pay Fox back for some games that weren’t played due to the pandemic in 2020. They’re also paying Fox $40 million because the B1G gave NBC the rights to the BTCG when it did not have the authority to do so (due to the complete grant of rights to BTN mentioned above). Those two factors are combining to cost each BT school about $5 million.

  • Coaches are complaining that they weren’t consulted or even notified about the deal. Basketball coaches are particularly concerned about the number of games that will be available only via streaming.

It makes sense why the Big Ten hired a TV executive to be commissioner.

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I read the general synopsis of this when it came out a day or two ago.

My only question is: Why is this just now coming out? The Big 10’s new media deal was announced months ago. It was big news. Did some of their media partners just realize that there was a problem?

Devil is in the details, I guess, and the details are just now coming to light. And I’m sure some B1G sources are leaking/spinning it to be unfavorable to the recently departed commish, not that that apparently requires a lot of spinning.

So much for being the smartest conference.


I guess in retrospect the fact the SEC schools were not grumbling about their own long-term deal when the Big Ten’s deal’s huge numbers were reported maybe indicated the reality was not quite as rosy. Still huge piles of money, but some strings and warts attached.