ESPN reportedly bows out of Big 10 TV negotiations

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ESPN has reportedly dropped out of broadcast rights negotiations with the growing Big 10 conference, the AP reports.

Big 10, which is adding USC and UCLA in 2024, will now boast 16 teams, making it a valuable commodity in the world of rights deals.

The conference reported wanted a seven-year agreement worth $380 million per year from ESPN, but AP sources say the network declined to sign under those terms.

The new deal also reportedly removed provisions allowing ESPN to get first pick of which games to air each week and also down the number of games it could air by roughly half, which could have played a key role in ESPN balking at the price tag and less favorable terms.

Fox Sports, which already owns 61% of the Big 10 Network and shares broadcast rights with ESPN, will likely share rights with CBS and NBC once the current contract expires after the 2023 season, according to AP sources.

CBS already owns the rights to SEC games through the end of the 2023 season as well, at which point ESPN will take over those broadcasts, becoming the exclusive TV home for the conference games.

It appears likely that CBS will weekend afternoon SEC games with Big 10 ones, assuming the deal is signed.

The Big 10 wouldn’t comment specifically on the status of negotiations or any potentially pending deals, though it is reportedly actively negotiating agreements with linear and direct-to-consumer platforms. All told, the conference could rake in over $1 billion from these rights.