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Fox Sports Consulting Big Ten Conference in Media Rights Negotiations

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The traditional media companies, CBS, ESPN and NBC, have had meetings with Fox Sports so far.Getty Images

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There was an intriguing situation afoot during the 10 major media rights negotiations this year that caused a lot of bewilderment by network television and digital executives.

two senior Fox Sports managers – Mark Silverman And Larry Jones – They took active roles during the media rights negotiations at the conference.

This meant that Silverman, Fox Sports’ president and chief operating officer, and Jones, Fox Sports’ executive vice president of business, were in the room listening intently as executives from rival companies – AmazonAnd appleAnd CBSAnd ESPNAnd NBC And Turner Submit their bids for conference rights packages.

The Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren He leads these meetings of course. He has run the conference for three years and has the final say on which company to end up with the rights. Keri KennySenior Conference Vice President for Television, Media, Analytics, and Emerging Platforms also plays a large role during each of these meetings.

Executives say they’ve never faced this kind of situation before where they’ve had to pitch not just in front of a competitive network, but actually in front of its executives.

Everything is in good condition, even if the situation is unusual. Sources say Fox Sports already has a deal in place to renew the Big Ten agreement, so it’s not as if Silverman and Jones are acquiring trade secrets as a way to promote their own show.

Silverman

Having Silverman and Jones in these negotiations is part of the deal Fox Sports made with the Big Ten when previous rights agreements were signed in 2017.

Previous deal gave Big Ten . network Control of media rights in the Big Ten for an indefinite period of time. Silverman, who ran the Big Ten Network in 2017, was part of negotiations with ESPN as BTN’s representative at the time.

This year, Silverman and Jones are participating in these talks as designated representatives for BTN, the channel in which Fox Sports is the majority owner and the entity that controls the rights to the Big Ten.

Jones

Essentially, the two Fox Sports executives act as BTN’s appointed representatives and media advisors, which is one reason the Big Ten has not hired a media advisor to help it through these negotiations.

For months, one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Big Ten negotiations was who Warren was using as an advisor. There was no clear answer. The idea that they were two CEOs of the well-established network certainly came as a surprise.

The Details of the new Fox deal haven’t been set – not even Big Ten or Fox executives know how many games that package will contain as the conference is still trying to sell one, two, or maybe three more packages to other bidders. The number of games that go to Fox depends on how the conference builds for these other packages. The conference expects to award these packages by Memorial Day.

Fox will have the main package and its deal will include at least as many games as its current deal, and maybe more. Under its current agreement, Fox broadcasts 27 major football games each season.

So far, traditional media companies CBS, ESPN, and NBC have held meetings with the Big Ten and Fox Sports.

CBS is looking for top-tier soccer games to replace Saturday afternoon’s SEC game, which departs to ESPN after the 2023 season.

NBC paid to get a weekly Big Ten they could pack with Notre Dame for a double header on Saturday. NBC owns the rights to Notre Dame football until the 2025 season.

ESPN holds more of the best college football games than any other network and wants to keep a piece of the Big Ten always.

Turner Sports has also expressed interest, although its executives have waited for an official bid to be made until Discoverybuying Warner Media passed through regulatory channels. The $43 billion deal became official on April 8, and they and the Big Ten are expected to meet in the coming weeks.

employment On the digital front, Amazon and Apple have also had discussions with the Big Ten. Both digital companies are increasingly using sports as a way to gain more subscribers for their streaming services. Amazon will be airing NFL “Thursday Night Football” exclusively this fall, and Apple just started carrying MLB Friday Night games exclusively earlier this month.

Having plenty of bidders ensures that the conference will see a healthy six-year, $2.64 billion increase, which it signed with ESPN and Fox in 2017.

This position provides an illustration of the college sports landscape where the two most important college sports conferences are primarily aligned with competing networks.

ESPN owns all rights to the SEC during the 2033-34 school year and owns and operates the SEC Network. Fox Sports will be the primary rights holder for the Big Ten and is the largest owner of the Big Ten Network.

John Ourand can be reached at jourand@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed Read his weekly newsletter and listen to his weekly podcast.

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