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NBA Viewership Mixed For Opening Night

“Both games fell short of Major League Baseball on Tuesday Night.”

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The first night of the new NBA season didn’t tell a simple story with its audience. There was good and bad for the league. Not ideal when seeking nearly $75 billion in new media rights deals.

In chronological order, TNT’s broadcast of the Milwaukee Bucks’ win over the Brooklyn Nets was the bad news. According to Sports Media Watch, the game is the least-watched NBA opener since 2007. It drew just 2.16 million viewers.

That number is down 20% from last year’s opener, which featured the Nets and the Warriors. Remember, the 2020-21 NBA season began in December. It is also down 4% from 2019, when the opener featured the Pelicans and Raptors.

The good news came in the second half of the doubleheader. The Warriors and Lakers drew an audience of 3.3 million. That is up 10% from the back half of last season’s opening night doubleheader between the Lakers and Clippers.

Star power definitely helped the nightcap. It was the second most-watched meeting of LeBron James and Steph Curry since 2018. Only last year’s play-in game drew a larger audience. It is a rivalry that has been missing in recent years as James and Curry have taken turns missing significant time due to injury.

Both games fell short of Major League Baseball on Tuesday Night. The NLCS matchup between the Dodgers and Braves drew the largest sports audience of the night with 4.36 million viewers.

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Big Ten Finalizes Largest Media Rights Deal in College Sports History

The conference will earn more than $8 billion over a seven-year deal with CBS, Fox, and NBC. It will generate $1.1 billion per year. Its previous deal with Fox and ESPN garnered the conference $440 million annually.

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BIG TEN, CBS, NBC, FOX SPORTS

Per a report from Sports Business Journal‘s Michael Smith, it’s official: The Big Ten has secured and finalized the largest media rights deal in college sports history.

The conference will earn more than $8 billion over a seven-year deal with CBS, Fox, and NBC. It will generate $1.1 billion per year. Its previous deal with Fox and ESPN garnered the conference $440 million annually. The soon-to-be 16 schools in the conference, after the additions of USC and UCLA, will receive nearly $70 million annually from the deal.

The contract also sees the Big Ten’s women’s basketball tournament championship game migrate to CBS.

As for the perceived overlap between the SEC and Big Ten during the 3:30 PM ET window on CBS, Warren said the conference was more than willing to work around prior contractual obligations.

“I made up my mind early on that I was not going to put CBS in a position where they had to say no because they had to break the SEC contract,” Warren told Sports Business Journal. “It wasn’t the right thing to do. So we just had to get creative.”

Peacock will become the conference’s streaming home, and NBC has agreed to a $100,000 advertising budget with each conference member to promote their academic institutions. NBC will have 16 games per season in primetime under the terms of the newly signed deal.

Fox’s package of Big Ten games will grow from 24-27 to 30-32 games through the end of the deal in 2029.

Each network will air the Big Ten’s football championship game during the lifetime of the deal. Fox will air four, CBS will air two, and NBC will air one.

Sources told SBJ that while ESPN was not included in this media rights deal, there’s a possibility talks could continue to bring ESPN a smaller package of games than previously negotiated.

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Notre Dame Expects Next Media Rights Deal to be Worth $60 Million Annually

Notre Dame is reportedly seeking $75 million per year, while Sports Business Journal figures the school would get closer to $60 million.

Jordan Bondurant

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Chris Coduto

There are still a few more seasons until Notre Dame starts the process of hammering out a new media rights deal, but it’s believed the FBS independent could have its next partner shelling out more than double what NBC is currently paying.

NBC, which appears to be a front-runner alongside CBS to be one of the key rights partners in the Big Ten’s new contract, currently pays $25 million each year for rights to Fighting Irish football according to Front Office Sports.

Notre Dame is reportedly seeking $75 million per year, while Sports Business Journal figures the school would get closer to $60 million.

Viewership for Fighting Irish games was reportedly down 48% year-over-year for the 2021 season, averaging 2.5 million viewers. The year before that, the pandemic season in 2020, viewership for Notre Dame was its best since 2005.

Notre Dame remains an independent in football, but is in the ACC for its other programs. The Fighting Irish do play some ACC schools in football. With NBC and the Big Ten apparently becoming new partners, it’s believed that Notre Dame would then have more Big Ten opponents in football.

The current contract between the school and NBC ends in 2025.

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Robert Griffin III Replaces Randy Moss on Monday Night Countdown

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program.

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Robert Griffin III
David Becker, Getty Images

With Monday Night Countdown set to lead into Thursday’s preseason matchup with the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, ESPN announced their lineup for the show.

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program. Robert Griffin III will join Booger McFarland and Steve Young as the show’s main analysts.

They will be partnered with Suzy Kolber who returns for her sixth year as the show’s host and news breaker Adam Schefter.

It was reported in July that analyst Randy Moss would not be returning to the show, opting instead to focus solely on Sunday Night Countdown.

The first regular season action featuring Monday Night Countdown will be on Monday, September 12 when the Seahawks play the Denver Broncos.

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