June 18, 2024

Kevin Warren inks unprecedented media rights deal for Big Ten

Kevin Warren

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren addresses reporters at Big Ten Media Days Tuesday July 26, 2022 at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

Last summer he sat back and watched as the SEC lured Texas and Oklahoma away from the Big 12.

No doubt landing the two blueblood programs was a monumental move by Commissioner Greg Sankey. However, the following year Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren responded in a huge way. Not only did Warren add USC and UCLA to College football’s most prestigious conference, but he also raised eyebrows with the most lucrative TV deal the sport has ever seen.

The Big Ten announced its’ new media rights deal Thursday morning, that’s worth more than a jaw-dropping, $7 billion over the next seven years. Now it’s crystal clear to the rest of the College football world that Warren has been playing chess and not checkers during his time as Commissioner. And right now he has the SEC in checkmate mode.

The SEC currently has media rights with CBS and ESPN, that’s currently valued at $55 million a year. The conference will start its’ new 10-year media rights deal for approximately 15 football and eight men’s basketball games per year in 2024. And that will replace the CBS contract, and runs until the conclusion of ESPN’s pre-existing SEC rights deal in 2034. ESPN’s exclusive 10-year deal with the SEC will start in 2024-25. And will be in the $300 million per year range.

Still, the Big Ten’s new TV contract with FOX, CBS and NBC makes the SEC’s deal look like chump change. Talk about raising the bar high in marketing value. The deal will begin July 1, 2023 and runs through the 2029-30 athletic year. ESPN is cable television network though, and requires some type of paid subscription. Meanwhile FOX, CBS and NBC are available over the air to anyone that has an antenna inside of their television.

That means the Big Ten will dominate Autumn Saturdays for years to come. A blockbuster game on FOX at noon, an afternoon tilt on CBS at 3:30 and a primetime matchup on NBC is going to do wonders for the league. The NFL has flexed its’ muscles for years on those three networks. And now the Big Ten will be getting its’ piece of the pie.

CBS will broadcast both SEC and Big Ten games before transitioning to a full Big Ten schedule in 2024. Everything is coming full circle for the Big Ten. Meanwhile the rest of the Power Five conferences are left scrambling for answers. With the landscape of the sport constantly changing from NIL deals, to conference realignment, it only seems right that Warren cemented this deal in a timely matter.

And once USC and UCLA are full participating members in 2024, the rest is going to be history. All 16 schools are expected to make up to $100 million apiece. Those numbers are enough to make the competitors cringe. NBC is the wildcard because it has a deal with Notre Dame and Peacock. As of now, all of the other Power Five Commissioners are back at the drawing board, trying to figure out what to do next.

Media rights has become a game of Monopoly with the Power Five. And Warren currently owns Boardwalk and Park Place.