Fox Sports is consulting the Big Ten conference in media rights negotiations

Traditional media outlets, CBS, ESPN and NBC, have so far held meetings with Fox Sports.getty pictures

An interesting situation occurred during the Big Ten negotiations on media rights this year, which caused a lot of combing of the TV network and digital executives.

Two seniors Fox Sports managers – Mark Silverman and Larry Jones – take an active role during the negotiations on media rights at the conference.

That means Silverman, president and CEO of Fox Sports, and Jones, executive vice president of Fox Sports, were in the room listening intently to the directors of competing companies – Amazon, Apple, CBS, ESPN, NBC and Turner – give their proposals for conference rights packages.

Commissioner Big Ten Kevin Warren leads these meetings, of course. He has chaired the conference for three years and has the final say on which company will eventually get the rights. Kerry Kennythe senior vice president of the conference for television, media, analytics and new platforms, also plays a major role during each of these meetings.

Executives say they have never before faced this kind of situation in which they had to present themselves not only in front of a competing network, but in fact to its executives as well.

Everything is on the rise, even if the situation is unusual. Sources say Fox Sports already has a deal to renew the Big Ten pact, so it’s not like Silverman and Jones are acquiring trade secrets as a way to improve their own offering.


The presence of Silverman and Jones in these negotiations is part of an agreement Fox Sports made with Big Ten when previous rights treaties were signed in 2017.

He gave an earlier agreement Network of the Big Ten control media rights to the Big Ten conference indefinitely. Silverman, who ran the Big Ten Network back in 2017, was then part of negotiations with ESPN as a representative of BTN.

This year, Silverman and Jones are participating in these talks as named representatives of BTN, the channel in which Fox Sports is the majority owner, and the entity that controls Big Ten’s rights.


In essence, the two directors of Fox Sports act both as appointed representatives of BTN and as media consultants, which is one of the reasons why Big Ten did not hire a media consultant to help him through these negotiations.

For months, one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Big Ten negotiations has been around who Warren used as a consultant. There was no clear answer. The idea that these are two well-established network managers is certainly a surprise.

The The specifics of Fox’s new deal have not been determined – not even Big Ten or Fox executives know how many games the package will have because the conference is still trying to sell another, two or possibly three packages to other suitors. The number of games going to Fox depends on how the conference structures these other packages. The conference expects these packages to be awarded by Remembrance Day.

Fox will have the main package and his contract will include at least as many games as the current one, probably more. Under the current contract, Fox has 27 big football games each season.

So far, traditional media outlets CBS, ESPN and NBC have held meetings with Big Ten and Fox Sports.

CBS is looking for top football matches to replace its Saturday afternoon SEC match, which goes to ESPN after the 2023 season.

NBC has advocated for a weekly Big Ten game that it can pack with Notre Dame for Saturday’s double-headed game. NBC has rights to Notre Dame football until the 2025 season.

ESPN brings more of the best university football games than any other network and wants to keep a share of the always highly rated Big Ten.

Turner Sports also expressed interest, although its executives were waiting for a formal presentation Discoveryis a purchase WarnerMedia passed through regulatory channels. The $ 43 billion deal became official on April 8 and is expected to meet with Big Ten in the coming weeks.

On on the digital front, Amazon and Apple have also been in talks with Big Ten. Both digital companies are increasingly using sports as a way to gain more subscribers for their streaming services. Amazon will be broadcasting NFL “Thursday Night Football” exclusively this fall, and Apple just earlier this month began broadcasting MLB games exclusively on Friday nights.

The presence of so many bidders only ensures that the conference will experience a healthy increase over the six-year $ 2.64 billion contract it signed with ESPN and Fox in 2017.

This situation is an illustration of the university sports landscape where the two best faculty sports conferences are essentially aligned with rival networks.

ESPN owns all SEC rights during the school year 2033-34 and owns and operates the SEC network. Fox Sports will be the main holder of the rights to the Big Ten and is the majority owner of the Big Ten Network.

John Ourand can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ and read his weekly newsletter and listen to his weekly podcast.

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