The Big Ten Conference Aug. 18 announced that it has reached a record $7 billion distribution agreement with CBS, Fox, NBC and NBCUniversal’s Peacock. The breadth of new partners, in addition to Big Ten Network (BTN) and FS1, will place college conference football, women’s and men’s basketball and Olympic sports student-athletes on the biggest media stages and provide fans with matchups across traditional over-the-air linear television and direct-to-consumer streaming, including NBCUniversal’s Peacock and likely Paramount+.
This landmark media rights agreement is the most comprehensive in all of college sports and further strengthens the Big Ten Conference as it competes against rival conferences, including the Southeastern Conference (SEC), which primarily distributes its coveted football games on Disney-owned ESPN.
The agreement begins July 1, 2023, and runs through the 2029-30 season.
Big Ten university members include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers and Wisconsin.
With the addition of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC) in August 2024, the conference, its student-athletes and member institutions will reach the broadest audience in the country, coast-to-coast, including the top three media markets in the country in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
“The Big Ten Conference media rights agreements are more than just dollars and deals. They are a mechanism to provide stability and maximum exposure for our student-athletes, member institutions and partners during these uncertain times in collegiate athletics,” Kevin Warren, Big Ten Conference Commissioner, said in a statement.
Sean McManus, chairman, CBS Sports, said the reach of corporate parent Paramount Global’s linear and digital platforms (i.e., Paramount+) would create a powerful showcase for the Big Ten and its student-athletes.
“The Big Ten has been a valued partner for more than three decades and we are thrilled to expand that relationship by adding Big Ten football to our portfolio of marquee properties,” McManus said.
Pete Bevacqua, chairman, NBC Sports, said that when combined with the network’s “Big Ten Saturday Night” and NFL “Sunday Night Football,” the new Big Ten agreement expands upon its historic Notre Dame Football partnership.
“With the rights to a wide range of Big Ten events, Peacock and NBC Sports will be a year-round destination for the best in college sports,” Bevacqua said.
The Big Ten Conference new media agreements grant the following rights to their partners:
BTN will maintain its strong position as the home for Big Ten fans, as the network will continue to televise a full slate of football, basketball and Olympic sport competition throughout the entire year.
CBS’s initial season in 2023 will include seven football games and both regular season and postseason men’s basketball action, along with the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament final appearing on CBS for the first time. The Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinals and final will continue the tradition of airing on CBS, which they have done for 25 years. Every CBS Big Ten football and basketball broadcast will also be streamed on Paramount+, Paramount Global’s direct-to-consumer streaming service.
Starting in 2024, CBS will televise up to 15 regular-season football games per season, including an annual Black Friday game in the afternoon. CBS is America’s most-watched network for the past 14 years and the highest-rated college football network.
Fox has renewed its agreement to televise football and men’s basketball games each season, with the opportunity to carry additional sports throughout the year. The Big Ten Conference’s partnership with Fox reached its high point during the 2021-22 year, as Fox captured the No. 1 time slot in college football for the first time with its Big Noon Saturday platform that featured 10-14 games involving a Big Ten team, and a men’s basketball season that ended with the top three most watched games in the history of FS1 all featuring Big Ten programs.
NBC will produce 14-to-16 games on broadcast television each season as it introduces college football fans to Big Ten Saturday Night. Each Big Ten game on NBC broadcast will also be simul-streamed on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s direct-to-consumer streaming service. NBC Sports has established the most dominant primetime franchise in television history, as its NFL “Sunday Night Football” has been primetime’s No. 1 show for an unprecedented 11 consecutive years — a streak that is currently active.
Peacock, NBCUniversal’s direct-to-consumer streaming service will deliver exclusive Big Ten football and basketball games each season, as eight regular-season football games will appear on the platform along with as many as 47 regular-season men’s basketball games (32 conference and 15 non-conference) and 30 regular-season women’s basketball games (20 conference and 10 non-conference).
CBS, Fox and NBC will combine efforts to televise the seven Big Ten Football Championship Games during the term.
CBS: 2024, 2028
Fox: 2023, 2025, 2027, 2029
Founded in 1896, the Big Ten Conference provides more than $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,800 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. Big Ten Conference sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013.