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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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The Big Ten’s NFL-Inspired Media Plan

  • The Big Ten is beginning new media deals with Fox, CBS, and NBC.
  • All three networks are also partners of the NFL, which has inspired a new feel for the conference.
Syndication: HawkCentral

This fall, Big Ten Saturdays are going to feel a lot like NFL Sundays.

The conference is beginning its seven-year, $7 billion media deal with Fox, CBS, and NBC — and each will take an NFL-inspired approach to broadcasting its games. 

Fox and CBS will largely air marquee games in the afternoons, leading into a primetime matchup on NBC. This weekend includes Utah State-Iowa at noon ET on FS1, Ohio State-Indiana at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS, and West Virginia-Penn State at 7:30 p.m. on NBC.

“It will look exactly like the NFL looks every week,” NBC Sports President of Acquisitions and Partnerships Jon Miller told Front Office Sports. “Where you see on ‘Sunday Night Football’ we’re promoting … the lineup of games the following week. And then those partners will do the same.”

Miller says he came up with the idea for a “Big Ten Saturday Night” package back in 2015 but couldn’t truly explore the concept until Kevin Warren became the conference’s commissioner in 2020. 

The two men had a longstanding relationship from Warren’s days as an NFL team executive, which proved to be pivotal when the Big Ten started negotiating its next media deals. This year, Warren left the Big Ten to return to the NFL and become president of the Chicago Bears.

Double-Dipping

For CBS, 2023 is a transition year as it completes its final SEC season while introducing Big Ten coverage. The network has seven Big Ten games this season and 13 SEC games before the latter conference begins an exclusive deal with ESPN in 2024.

“Our expectations are high,” CBS Sports executive vice president of programming Dan Weinberg told FOS of the long-term potential with the Big Ten.

And while the network is concluding its nearly three-decade long run with the SEC, don’t expect any bad blood from CBS. “You’ll see promotion for the Big Ten, you’ll see promotion for the SEC in the same way that we’ve been doing it,” Weinberg explained.

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