Skip to main content

ESPN Pulls Out of Big Ten Media Rights Negotiations, per Report

ESPN has pulled out of media rights negotiations with the Big Ten, ending a four-decade relationship between the network and conference, according to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand.

The Tuesday morning update comes after previous reports indicated that the negotiations between the two sides were hanging by a thread. ESPN then reportedly turned down a seven-year, $380 million offer from the Big Ten for about 13 games per season, according to SI’s Ross Dellenger.

That package would have been about half of ESPN’s current, 27-game Big Ten game slate. The offer would have also limited the network’s access to the second and third-best Big Ten matchups and only during the primetime window, when the network already has deals to show SEC and ACC contests, per Dellenger.

ESPN signed its first rights agreement with the Big Ten in 1982 and has broadcast the conference’s games without interruption ever since. Even though the network stands to lose its Big Ten rights, it could still carry some non-conference games involving Big Ten teams, depending on the opposing team’s rights.

With ESPN now effectively out of the picture, CBS and NBC are considered the frontrunners to purchase the conference’s remaining inventory, according to a previous report from Ourand. The networks are considering purchasing the broadcast rights to games in the 3:30 ET and prime-time windows. 

CBS is expected to offer $350 million for the 3:30 p.m. ET window, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.

Despite the growing number of reports that suggests CBS and NBC plan to acquire the rights to Big Ten games, the conference said in a statement to Dellenger that the “constructs of the new rights agreements have not been finalized.”

“The Big Ten Conference is currently working with world-class partners to complete multifaceted media rights agreements. The overall constructs of the new rights agreements have not been finalized,” the statement said. “The conference continues to have productive meetings with both linear and direct to consumer media partners.”

More College Football Coverage: