Big Ten expansion brings major media-rights holder back to the table amid $1 billion negotiations, per report
Media rights holders are among those closely watching conference realignment, and the move of Southern Cal and UCLA to the Big Ten has brought a major player back to the table.
John Ourand and Michael Smith of Sports Business Journal reported that Apple has contacted the Big Ten about re-engaging in talks after news of the move surfaced.
Soon after the news about USC and UCLA joining the Big Ten broke, an Apple exec called the conference with a simple message: It wanted to reengage in media-rights talks, report SBJ’s John Ourand and Michael Smith. That call was emblematic of a chaotic day where media companies that had spent months finalizing how much they would pay for Big Ten rights were rushing back to the drawing board to see how the addition of two high-profile schools would change their bidding strategy.
The news of the Big Ten expansion will likely stretch negotiations deep into the summer, and possibly early fall. Originally, the Big Ten had been planning to wrap up its rights negotiations at some point in July. Before the expansion, the Big Ten was expected to be the first college conference to eclipse $1 billion in media-rights fees annually.
Fox Sports already had reached a deal to carry at least half of the conference’s package, and CBS was viewed as a front-runner to take at least a package of Saturday football games in the 3:30pm ET window. That left Amazon, ESPN and NBC competing for a third package. As late as this morning, Apple and Warner Bros. Discovery were not viewed as credible bidders. That could all change.