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Media Rights Deals are Recession-Proof, Benefit from Longer Terms

As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year

Jordan Bondurant

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The U.S. economy may be in the “worry” phase about an upcoming recession, but if recent television deals are any indication, sports leagues are not. Media rights deals continue to skyrocket despite all of other financial indicators showing that people, businesses are currently struggling.

As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year. Those are just a couple of examples of the massive figures that seem to run counter what the average person is dealing with.

Media rights seem to be unharmed by overall macroeconomic environment. It’s interesting to look at why.

One of the main reasons seems to be scarcity. There are only so many NFLs in the world. The number might be one. If you have those media rights, you have access to a multitude of cashflow. It’s important to have the product that people want. Since people will not stop wanting their sports, it’s important to have live sports.

Also, fan participation isn’t one that seems to dwindle, overall, even in a pandemic or financial crunch. Fans care about their team, sport and the league they are in. That kind of fervor for a product makes payment to them or to whomever owns their rights to see them, a foregone conclusion.

A huge reason, also, for the value of a franchise and/or media rights deal to be largely unharmed by current economic climates is their length. Those rights are structured to be long-term and hopefully weather whatever financial crisis may be on the horizon in a hope that it is temporary.

Sports TV News

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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