The Big Ten will have yet more money with which to not fire Darrell Hazell in the near future:
Fox is close to signing a deal that gives it half of the Big Ten’s available media rights package, according to several sources. Deal terms still are flexible – both in terms of money and rights. However, the two sides have agreed on basic terms that will give Fox the rights to around 25 football games and 50 basketball games that it will carry on both the broadcast channel and FS1 starting in the fall of '17. The deal runs six years and could cost Fox as much as $250M per year, depending on the amount of rights the Big Ten conference puts in its second package.
Let's think some thoughts about this.
First, this is why the TV networks hurl the money. Combine this graph…
…with the relative prosperity of Big Ten folks versus the other section of the country that can't get enough college football and you get a lot of money. When it comes to Jim Delany, this is strictly Bedouins owning the land the oil is on. It's replacement-level performance. You are the reason TV networks are throwing crazy dollars at the Big Ten.
Second, it's a lot of money. Per SBD, the potential 250 million dollar deal is half of a package the Big Ten is currently getting 112 million for from ESPN and CBS. I imagine the total will come in under a half billion dollars a year unless they want to evaporate from ESPN entirely, which they probably don't. It's still a staggering amount of dough.
Third, it's not for very long. A six year term is unusually short when it comes to these kind of contracts, and it puts the Big Ten's rights up at around the same time everybody else sees theirs expire. Six years may be unusually short from the perspective of rights contracts—the BTN has their rights package until 2032(!)—but this is an unusual transition period.
In six years everyone may decide to boot the middleman and make everything more or less WWE Network, except unscripted. Or they may carry on because momentum is a powerful thing and ESPN matters. Meanwhile, networks are already looking at the number of dollars they've committed in a uncertain environment and blanching. SBN reports that ESPN's offer was "not competitive."
The Big Ten wanted a deal that would expire at the same time the BTN deal does and did not get it. Uncertainty reigns.
Fourth, mark your calendars. In six years there will be another tumultuous period of conference expansion. Contracts will be more or less up across the spectrum, grant-of-rights agreements in the ACC will be close to expiring, and it'll be time for another dance of doom.
Fifth, I'm relatively happy about FOX. Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt are both great and we'll be hearing a lot more of them call Michigan games in the future. Gus doing more Michigan basketball is also enticing. FS1 is a wasteland of hot takes delivered by morons, but FOX's actual game coverage has gotten a lot better over the last few years.
Also, adding college football to Fox networks increases the WALL OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL effect on Saturdays this fall. More options for games to watch and less pressure to bump Michigan off of noon windows* gets a thumbs up from me. I kind of want Fox to always put Michigan on at noon on the broadcast network.
*[Noon is the best time for a game if you want to watch the rest of CFB.]
Sixth, just pay some people. The Big Ten now has hundreds of millions of dollars and no additional expenses.