CHICAGO — The Big Ten Network will triple its prime-time national TV exposure during football season and add more basketball games in the time slot, thanks to new deals with broadcast partners FOX, ABC/ESPN and CBS.
Commissioner Jim Delany made the announcements at the kickoff of the conference media days event Monday.
“College football has never been healthier. It’s also never been more fragile,” Delany said, citing major issues ranging from players safety and lawsuits to more minor conflicts like scheduling conflicts on Friday night with high school football games.
The FOX and ABC/ESPN football deals run for six years, as does the basketball agreement with CBS.
According to recent reports, the Big Ten’s new deal is worth $2.64 billion. That means Penn State and the other 13 Big Ten members will share a new TV deal that averages $440 million per year beginning this fall. That nearly triples the amount ESPN and CBS had been paying for the same programming.
That new broadcast contract doesn’t include the Big Ten Network’s package of rights, which runs to 2032. FOX owns 51 percent of BTN.
BTN President Mark Silverman said ratings were up 5 percent last season, when the network showed more live events and studio hours than ever before. He also announced that former Big Ten stars Braylon Edwards of Michigan, James Laurinitis of Ohio State and Corey Wooton of Northwestern will join the broadcast team.
The deals had been in the works for some time. Delany said a variety of issues had dragged negotiations out longer than anticipated, among them “pushback” from high school coaches and administrators over the conference’s plan for some Friday night telecasts.