By Michael McCarthy and Amanda Christovich
Before USC and UCLA announced they would join the Big Ten in 2024, the conference was already on track to garner up to $1 billion annually in its new media rights deal. But after the addition, media partners were told to “go back to the drawing board,” Front Office Sports previously reported .
Now, the Big Ten hopes to kick that number up by 50% to at least $1.5 billion annually, sources told Front Office Sports.
If the conference can pull this off, it could become the richest in all of college sports — with a media deal that dwarfs even that of the mighty Southeastern Conference.
That number also suggests USC and UCLA alone could have boosted the conference’s annual rights value by $500 million. The addition of the two mega-schools gives the Big Ten access to the Los Angeles TV market, the second-largest in the country behind New York.
These schools will certainly get their fair share — commissioner Kevin Warren previously said publicly that they’ll receive their full slice of media rights upon joining the conference.
The Big Ten told FOS that it “is grateful for the quality and quantity of potential media partners. At this time, it would be inappropriate to speculate during ongoing negotiations.”
Last week, Warren said publicly that the conference was finalizing negotiations.
The deal could include a conglomeration of the biggest networks, in addition to the Big Ten’s current partner in FOX, FOS reported .
Warren has said he’s also excited about the creative elements of content delivery.
NBC, for its part, is making a play for the conference’s rights — which it sees as the “perfect one-two punch” to Notre Dame football.
While it can’t offer the cash of its competitors, NBC is offering to make the Big Ten the “NFL” of college football by creating a complement to “Sunday Night Football” with Saturday night prime-time Big Ten matchups.
Meanwhile, there’s growing frustration over the role of Fox Sports in the Big Ten media rights negotiations. Fox is the conference’s primary TV partner and part-owner of the Big Ten Network. Fox executives are directly involved in the negotiations.
Rival sports TV executives from the likes of NBC, ESPN, and CBS are uncomfortable submitting financial bids and sharing information in front of rival sports TV executives.
“So who do you think is going to get the best game matchups? Fox,” said one source. “Bottom line, Fox is watching out for Fox, not the Big Ten.”
The Big Ten’s current deal pays around $440 million each year.
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