There has been a lot of change in college sports as many major Division I schools continue to consolidate into one of the Power Five conferences. The Big Ten currently has 14 members with four more schools set to join in 2024.
Prominent conferences also negotiate for big television contracts, and the Big Ten has just ended its longtime agreement with ABC and ESPN and entered into a new deal with CBS.
In this latest episode of Behind the Headlines, Amie Just, a sports columnist for the Lincoln Journal Star and Husker Extra, discusses a story for Lee Enterprises' Public Service Journalism team that looks at that new TV deal.
Read the full story: How the Big Ten's new TV deal with Fox, CBS, NBC and Peacock works
About this program
Host Terry Lipshetz is a senior producer for Lee Enterprises. Besides producing interviews for this Behind the Headlines program, he produces the daily Hot off the Wire news podcast, co-hosts Streamed & Screened movies and television program and is the producer of Across the Sky weather and climate podcast.
Lee Enterprises produces many national, regional and sports podcasts. Learn more here.
Note: The following transcript was created by Adobe Premiere and may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies as it was generated automatically:
Welcome to another episode of Behind the Headlines, where we feature experts and journalists discussing a variety of topics. I'm Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer for Leon, your host. In this latest episode, Amie, Just a sports columnist for the Lincoln Journal, star in Husker Extra, worked on a story for Lee Enterprises public service journalism team that looks at a new television contract for the Big Ten conference and what it means for fans.
Amie, thank you for joining the program today. Yeah, thanks for having me. So can you give a little bit of a background on what you worked on and what this new contract is for the Big Ten? Yes. So Nebraska sends Big Ten fans for as long as football has been televised through cable networks. They have gotten really used to going to ABC and ESPN and for big games that will be different.
Now, with the Big Ten using CBS as well as its previous partners in NBC and Fox and its own internal network with the Big Ten Network, it's a little different. And so I wanted to explain to fans what this will look like and how different it could be, especially at the beginning, because no matter who we are, a change is hard, right?
So I approached it. My story from that perspective was just how will this be different for viewers who are tuning in at home? What is the most noticeable change then that viewers might see right away? I know ESPN know ABC, and instead of that CBS four games. Now, if a Big Ten team is playing on the road against an SEC team or, you know, any other conferences that have partnerships with ESPN, then those games could still be on those networks.
And then in the postseason, four bowl games and whatnot. Then those games could still be on ABC and ESPN's family of networks. So it's not going away completely, but it is going away for your Big Ten games. Why the change? Does this just come down to money? Is that simply it? Yeah. So what the FCC did its big deal there a few years ago and CBS was cut out of the picture for the FCC.
So the FCC is moving forward just solely with ESPN and ABC for their games moving forward. And you'll see that change take place, not this season, but next season for that. In the meantime, then, will fans still get the same number of games that they would expect? Normally, this season on ESPN? Or is there a little bit of a you know, with the FCC still on CBS, are they occupying some slots that might go to the Big Ten in the future?
Yeah. So there are there are seven games for the Big Ten that'll be on CBS this season as CBS and ESPN or CBS and the SEC phase out of their partnership. So I believe there will be a couple Big ten games on ESPN in the non-conference when the Big Ten is a visiting team. But yeah, moving forward now, ABC or ESPN.
So the majority of your Big Ten. Now the Big Ten has been in flux also. It's I mean, it hasn't been just ten schools in a while and it just keeps on growing and growing and growing. We have the addition of schools coming in like UCLA, USC, Oregon, Washington, where were any of those schools involved in this deal at all in negotiations, or was this just, you know, the contract happened to be up with ABC and it's just more coincidence.
So they had to take care of the deal anyway. So when the Big Ten had offer she out and was negotiating with all of the broadcast networks, USC and UCLA were already involved in being Big Ten schools at that point. So their inclusion and in these conversations, they were already included in these conversations. Washington and Oregon, not so much.
So the the Big Ten put out its opponents list for 2024 and 2025, like right before Oregon and Washington were admitted into the conference and they will be admitted into the conference in 2024. So the Big Ten has to go back to the drawing board on its schedule, saying four conference opponents. I don't think it's going to erase everything that had already been done because so much work had been put into making that schedule.
But it will have to change just with the inclusion of two new teams. So Oregon and Washington will receive lesser payments as they become onboarded with this new deal and entering the conference. But so far it's going to it's going to be interesting in 2024, that's for sure. What is the state of college football in particular? I guess college in general with these TV contract talks, have there been a lot of shifts recently or is it just kind of business as usual deals expired, new contracts have to get negotiated or has there, especially now with so many conferences and the consolidation into the power five in particular, has that really changed the game here?
Yeah, I think it all goes hand in hand with each other. The ACC is contract is not up until 2036, so we've got quite a while for that one to expire. But I think the landscape of college athletics will look vastly different by the time the accedes deal needs to be renegotiated. The PAC 12 what's left of it anyway, the deal that they were trying to work on was not great, and that is partially what has led to the conference's demise.
So yeah, it's part of it. The Big Ten that had been working on this for a while and then this current deal that they have in place expires in seven years. So and I'm not entirely sure when the SEC's deal is done, but several years from now since they just renegotiated it a few years ago. So that's definitely a driving factor in all of this.
You know, cash is king in billions keep of college football. And I think that's driving a lot of this, but not all of it. The the PAC 12, in my opinion, was partially brought down by just idiocy from its leadership. And that definitely didn't help with their TV deal going the way that it did. And their recent talks with Apple TV.
You talk a little bit about the Big Ten's contract status overall, because it's to me, it's almost a little confusing because we know we have the Big Ten Network. So they have their own thing that they do that that's part of cable systems. They have this deal now with CBS, but they also have deals out with other networks to write.
They have something with with Fox, NBC, but also Peacock. What what do all these mean? You know, they're spread all over the place. What what networks are getting what what's the price even to. Yeah. So it's going to be like structured based on time. So Fox as they've done in the past, has your big new game so there will be a game on Fox at noon Eastern and then their family of network so FS1 some games will be on there as well and then your afternoon game your 330 Eastern, that'll be CBS and then your primetime game that's NBC.
Now the Big Ten Network will fill in the gaps. So there will be other games on at the same time because that's just the way things work. But then with Peacock coming into the mix, they will have a few games that will be solely, you know, exclusive to Peacock for streaming. So and that's NBC's streaming service. So any game that is on NBC will be able to be streamed on Peacock, but there will be some games that will be exclusively on Peacock this season.
It's just a few. A lot of them are non-conference games, but as we move forward into 2024, there could be more of those games. You know, Big Ten opponent versus Big Ten opponent on the air. And that'll be something to, you know, you just have to adjust to. But it does appear that the games that are on Peacock exclusively, the the the people that work with getting like sports bars like their TV packages, it appears like they've made a deal there.
So you're not going to be stuck trying to pay for peacock if you don't to you can still go to your local sports bar. It sounds like, and watch those games. So this almost sounds like or it is very similar to what's happened in some other sports where NFL has games on Amazon Prime for Major League Baseball is using Apple TV plus and you almost have to and I know is is a baseball fan who subscribes to MLB TV There's a lot of frustration with baseball fans because you're paying for this baseball package but once a week games might end up on Apple TV Plus and it's almost diluting those packages.
Have you heard any concerns from anybody regarding these, you know, exclusivity to like a peacock, which isn't part of traditional cable or at the very least, you know, you can't bust out the rabbit ears and attach it to your TV and just watched over the network airwaves. Any any concerns out there that you've heard of? I'm sure once we get closer to the season and teams, fans of teams find out that, oh, this is a peacock on the game, I'm sure that there will be some frustrations with that.
But right now it's, you know, fans are just excited for football to come back and they aren't necessarily caring just yet what network their game will be on. But once we roll around to when the games are actually happening and you're trying to figure out what channel it's going to be on, I'm sure people will be frustrated. Absolutely.
And people will let you know and you'll probably follow up on that as it happens. Yeah, we're we're obviously focused very much on football because it is you know, college football season is about to take off. But, you know, this deal isn't just for football. This is Big Ten for all their sports. Correct. So this is we're talking about men's and women's basketball, other sports.
So what can we expect to see when we move forward to basketball season? Yeah. So plenty of Big Ten basketball games that aired on CBS in the past. So that won't necessarily change. And then, you know, if a Big Ten team is involved in Multi-Team tournaments like the ESPN one, for example, obviously those games will be on ESPN.
If they play a non-conference road game, then you know, that will be, you know, aired on whatever, you know, networks that the road team is partnered with. So men's basketball, those games will air on either Fox, CBS, FS1, BTN or Big Ten plus. And then some games will be exclusively streamed on Peacock too, so we'll know more about that as a, you know, the the process for figuring out where those games go.
We'll figure out more on that as we get closer to the season. And then women's basketball games will air on either Fox, FS1, BTN, BTN Plus and Peacock. There may be some additional broadcast opportunities on other platforms, but they haven't quite figured that one out yet. Again, not quite there yet on the season. So that's going to be interesting to see as that, you know, plays out as games get, you know, scheduled and, you know, slotted to see where those end up, how many are solely on streaming versus, you know, on national television.
But again, like the big saying for that is, you know, if a Big Ten team plays a non-conference team on the road, then those games could air on ABC or ESPN or like women's basketball fans in Nebraska saw last year a top 25 game with Nebraska women's basketball at a top 25 team in Creighton Women's basketball that was exclusively streamed out below sports.
So fans have been, you know, frustrated by that in the past. But that's just how it works sometimes as far as Olympic sports, like volleyball, big, big sport in the Big Ten, those will be Big Ten Network, the Fox Family of Networks and BTN Plus, and then your local stations as well. Peacock will not be exclusively streaming on big sports just yet, but that's something that they're going to look at in the future.
They are so far the Olympic sports coverage, you know, other than volleyball I think has been getting Big Ten Network airing all of those championships. And I think this is my personal opinion. I think the Big Ten could do more with volleyball and the national audiences seeing merit. The national championship will be on ABC this year for volleyball, which is really exciting.
So if a Big Ten team is in there, then obviously you're going to be watching them on ABC. And I hope personally, I hope that that is really successful because the more women's sports that are on national television, I think the better. Yeah. I'm based in Madison, Wisconsin, so obviously a couple of years ago, the women's volleyball team winning the national title.
That was huge and got tremendous exposure. So you can really see how well that played on TV. And it was it was fun to watch. So it's good to see that those opportunities are going to be out there for not just football, because that's what everybody always talks about. It's football and it's college basketball because they're the big, big money drivers.
But obviously you have a lot of athletes in many different sports that don't necessarily get that level of of TV exposure that you would see or would like to see. Anything else you learned or found interesting on this story that you put together? I just think it's fascinating how this all comes together. It's a really complicated process to figure out what games go on, what network at what time, and just seeing that in action, I think it's really fascinating for me personally with so many different networks, you know, because it's not just CBS, it's obviously of the Big Ten network of CBS.
Yeah. FOX Are there any times where these networks, they butt heads and, you know, we want this game, but no, no, we're going to we want this game instead or or does it break down pretty evenly over the course of the season? Everybody wants Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Like everybody was thinking like everybody wants those big games, right?
So yeah, I'm sure there's, you know, standing on the table metaphorically, of course, maybe. Actually, I'm not sure. But, you know, at the end of the day, regardless of what network these games are on, it's going to be a good product for fans. And that's what the Big Ten is after, is making sure that, you know, they're doing creative and well-done programing regardless of if it's on FOX, Fox Sports one, CBS, NBC, Peacock, the Big Ten Network, they want their product to be well represented.
And I think that with any of these networks, they can't go wrong. On that note, we will wrap up. Thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you.
We hope you enjoyed this latest episode of Behind the Headlines. You can find us on every podcast platform and we'd love it if you could take a moment to subscribe and leave a review. Finally, if you appreciate what we're doing with this program, we encourage you to invest in local journalism by supporting the newspaper in your community. I'm Terry Lipshetz, thanking you so much for listening to Behind the headlines from the Enterprises.