Every spring, major television networks gather in New York City to roll out their Fall Collection, providing advertisers an upfront preview of their lineups.
At the network’s upfront yesterday, FOX announced that Ohio State at Michigan (November 25) will be broadcast on its network this season. And not just this season.
FOX owns Big Ten tier-one rights for six years starting with 2017-18, meaning that the Ohio State-Michigan game will be on FOX for the next six seasons. In other words, as ESPN’s and CBS’s rights deals set to expire with the SEC (2024), FOX’s is designated to run out with the Big Ten.
The B1G now has two schools competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff. They happen to be Michigan and Ohio State and they happen to play each season. The Game happens every November. Last year the game clocked a 10.4 overnight rating, ABC’s highest rating since Ohio State and Michigan played in 2006.
Always, no matter what both teams are ranked and whether or not it should be a primetime game, kickoff is at noon on ABC.
That changes now because both teams have extraordinary coaches, top seven recruiting classes and FOX was willing to sing to the tune of $240 million annually and beat ESPN’s offer for tier-one broadcast rights.
Tier-one rights deals offer first right of refusal. And while FOX, as the number one bidder, gets to hand-select its games, ESPN also pays the conference a reported $190 million for its chunk of the conference schedule. Together that’s $430 million each year in television rights. The SEC split $420 million in TV and radio revenue 14 ways last year. Conference revenue battles with FOX and ESPN are getting interesting.
In Monday’s announcement by FOX, which owns 51% of the Big Ten Network, the network also boasted the broadcast rights for Penn State at Ohio State (October 28), Notre Dame at Michigan State (September 23), Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (November 4) and Texas at USC (September 16).
ESPN has been recently criticized for the way it’s structured rights deals, overpaying for Monday Night Football and its NBA contract. The network pays $150 million annually for the rights to SEC football and women’s basketball. This is part of a 15-year deal started in 2009 in which ESPN outbid Raycom Sports (formerly Lincoln Financial and Jefferson Pilot).
SEC football is also broadcast on CBS, which reworked its contract with the conference in 2013 to account for the SEC Network and is now worth $55m per year. Those rights come up in 2024.
That adds up to $205 million per year split by 14 member schools on ESPN and CBS contracts. The conference also divides a share of the SEC Network’s profits, which overdelivered from the outset, generating $112 million in profit in the Network’s first nine months.
After adding Maryland and Rutgers in 2014, the Big Ten projected its revenue sharing to distrubute $44.5 million in the upcoming school year.
For a graphic of how each conference amassed its money in 2014-15, look here.