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The Big Ten’s new media rights agreement changes everything

The new deal is the largest and most lucrative in college athletics.

2022 Big Ten Conference Football Media Days Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The way we consume Fighting Illini — and Big Ten — football & basketball is about to change in a major, major way.

Word broke last week that ESPN would not be renewing its broadcast rights deal with the Big Ten once the current agreement expired at the end of this season, thus ending its 40-year partnership with the conference.

CBS, Fox, and NBC had reportedly come to terms with the Big Ten on a new media rights agreement, and now we know the particulars:

That deal, which runs through the 2029-30 season, is worth susbstantially more than what the Sports Business Journal reported the Big Ten offered ESPN earlier this month:

If that math is correct, that’s a $2.66B deal. This new contract is worth nearly THREE TIMES that. With that kind of initial valuation the partnership with CBS/NBC/Fox is an absolute no-brainer for the conference.

Each Big Ten school will reportedly receive approximately $60 million at the onset of the deal with the payout increasing to an estimated $100 million per member beginning in 2025.

More from McMurphy:

“The Big Ten Conference media rights agreements are more than just dollars and deals. They are a mechanism to provide stability and maximum exposure for our student-athletes, member institutions and partners,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren in a statement Thursday.

Commissioner Warren added, “we are very grateful to our world-class media partners for recognizing the strength of the Big Ten Conference brand and providing the incredible resources we need for our student-athletes to compete at the very highest levels.”

Illinois AD Josh Whitman also issued a statement, saying the upcoming rights deal “will further amplify the brand of our league through unprecedented partnerships with a collection of the most prominent, dynamic media companies in the world.”

CBS’ creative team wasted no time with putting together their hype video:

This agreement is obviously a financial boon for the Big Ten and its member schools. The landscape of college sports is constantly changing, and it’s better to be ahead of the times than get left behind. This billion-dollar-per-year contract will certainly provide greater stability for the Big Ten while also providing many more enrichment opportunities for student-athletes on and off the field of play.

The long-term ramifications really affect the viewer — the Big Ten got their bag, so that’s all that really matters to them. It’s not gonna be as simple as turning on Channel 4 or Channel 6 or Channel 8 or Channel 18 or Channel 26 (shout out to my fellow Quad Citians). Even those that still subscribe to satellite providers like DirecTV or Dish are going to miss out on a great deal of games.

It’s a lot to remember, but our Big Ten brother site, Off Tackle Empire, lays things out pretty succinctly here.

Streaming is the “new” thing. And if you’re an Illinois football fan, it’s safe to assume you’ll need to find out how to download Peacock to your smart TV — or spend hours trying to explain to your parents what Peacock even is (hi, it’s me).

Change is hard, but necessary. And with any other technological advancement, those that want to figure it out will figure it out. But this is a hugely positive result for the Big Ten, and there should be plenty more good news to follow.