There are numerous reports out Tuesday that FOX has opened up the check book and is ready to use Big 10 football and basketball as their lead weapon in the battle to take on ESPN.
They are willing to pay $250 million a year to the Big 10 to broadcast 25 football games and 50 basketball games a year.
$250 million for half of the inventory.
The Big 10 currently gets $112 million a year for its entire 1st tier media rights, which expire after the 2016-17 basketball season.
The new pact will include streaming rights to other video platforms, but for today let's just concentrate on the dollars.
Industry reports are that ABC/ESPN "underperformed" with their bid to control the entire inventory of games. As many are no doubt aware, ESPN's parent company, Disney, has gotten nervous over the slow, but steady decline in subscribers to the ESPN family of networks. Cord cutters have put a dent in the money machine that is ESPN, and FOX smells blood in the water.
So the immediate question is how much does ESPN still want to be involved with the Big 10? Live sports are still the Holy Grail of media outlets, and the Big 10 is second only to the SEC in its appeal to college fans. CBS is probably content to sit this one out, but NBC/Comcast and Turner Broadcasting are both expected to be bidders for the 2nd half of the package. If they match the first bid, that would mean the Big 10 would collect $500 million a year just for their 1st tier rights.
One other interesting note is that there is no mention of FS2 as a carrier of these contests. All games will be nationally televised on the FOX Network or FS1. Those networks are available on the basic packages, but have been woefully behind even ESPN 2 when it comes to ratings for college football - just ask the Big 12.
Speaking of the Big 12. IF the Big 10 gets a matching bid for the second part of the tier one package, they will be distributing over $35 million a year to each program - not including College Bowl, NCAA basketball or Big 10 network revenue.
The Big 12 tax return for 2014-15 stated that the league distributed $23.3 million to each program, including all revenue streams. The SEC hit $34 million with the first year of the SEC network payout.
There is no way the Big 12 can pull together the scraps out there for expansion and come close to anything like those numbers. Forget about poaching from the ACC, that is a non-starter.
Texas is fine as long as ESPN keeps the LHN money flowing. But if the administration is not working seriously on an exit strategy to a more secure long-term conference solution, they should be fired tomorrow.