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When reports surfaced that USC and UCLA had been in negotiations to join the Big Ten on Thursday, Apple was reportedly reinvigorated to engage in media rights involving the Big Ten, according to Sports Business Journal.

Prior to the negotiations and now approval of USC and UCLA to join the Big Ten in 2024, the Big Ten had planned to conclude its media rights negotiations in July as the league was set to surpass $1 billion in annual media rights fees. 

However, with Bruins and Trojans’ approval to join the league, the negotiations could stretch to August and may not be completed until after Labor Day, per Sports Business Journal.

As Apple seeks to change its bidding strategy for media rights with the Big Ten, the competition from other networks will be increased as well. Prior to the league adding the two high-profile schools, Fox Sports had secured a deal to carry close to half of the league’s conference games.

CBS, on the other hand, was in a prime position to carry some of the Big Ten’s Saturday football games. With that, Sports Business Journal, Amazon, ESPN and NBC were all bidding for a third package to secure games with the league. Even more, Apple and Warner Brothers Discovery were not viewed as tenable bidders, per Sports Business Journal.

Thursday’s landmark move of the two Los Angeles-based programs to the Big Ten started in conversations a few months ago. Both schools have been a part of the Pac-12 for quite some time. 

The move furthers speculation that college sports is headed towards a “Power 2” system in which the Big Ten and SEC continue to poach big-name programs from other leagues. The sentiment throughout the college football world is that the two leagues could grow to 30–35 teams each, operating as a “semi-professional model” of the sport, per Dellenger.

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