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The Big Ten's record-breaking TV deal is beginning to take shape

Barring a late change, beginning in 2024 Big Ten football will be everywhere... everywhere except ESPN.

The Big Ten's record-breaking, industry-shaking TV deal is close enough to the goal line that commissioner Kevin Warren is telling is offensive coordinator to pick out his favorite 2-point play. The B1G is about to run up the score on the rest of the industry, even the mighty SEC. There's a lot going on here, so let's break it all down.

What are the particulars? We've already known the Big Ten's "A" package would remain with Fox for the Big Noon Kickoff window. That window is already 75 percent Big Ten/25 percent Big 12, but will soon move to 100 percent Big Ten once Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC. In addition, CBS and NBC are about to join the fray. CBS will replace the 3:30 ET SEC game with the Big Ten (more on this later), and NBC is expected to have a prime time game, which would compete directly with ABC/ESPN at night. CBS and NBC would have the "B" games. Apple or Amazon are expected to have a slice of the pie as well, in addition to games on FS1, BTN and Peacock. 

The total value of the deals are expected to be worth $1 billion, and even up to $1.5 billion, per year for the conference.

In short, Big Ten football will be everywhere, except... Multiple reports Monday night indicated that, while nothing is done at this time, the Big Ten is not expected to continue its relationship with ABC and ESPN. If so, it would end two of the longest -- perhaps the two longest -- network/conference relationships in college athletics. Sports Business Journal noted that Big Ten football has aired on ABC continuously since 1966, and on ESPN since 1982. Remember, ESPN launched in 1979. ABC/ESPN helped turn the Big Ten into what it is today, and for that conference to not have a relationship with the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader is unprecedented in modern college football.

If the Big Ten really does part ways with ABC/ESPN, what would that mean for everyone else? 

For the Big Ten: It would turn the Big Ten into NFL Lite, at least in terms of how the league is packaged. The Big Ten would truly become the first national collegiate conference. Fox and CBS carry NFL games on Sunday afternoons and NBC does at night. Soon, Fox and CBS will carry Big Ten games on Saturday afternoons and NBC at night. 

For the Big 12 and Pac-12: This would be enormous news for both conferences. ABC/ESPN is already the exclusive home of the ACC, and will become so for the SEC beginning in 2024. But ESPN still has the appetite and the bandwith for more college football, and so the Big 12 and Pac-12 would be next in line. The Pac-12 would benefit here especially, for two reasons. First, it's next to bat behind the B1G; its contracts expire in 2024, while the Big 12's don't until the following year. Second, the Pac-12 is the only conference that can offer After Dark football each week. 

For the SEC and ACC: This would be a line in the sand, especially for the SEC, as the Big Ten stakes its claim as college football's most valuable property. In 2016, the ACC signed a 20-year contract with ESPN. In 2020, the SEC signed a 10-year contract with ESPN at $300 million a year. 

Wait, so how is ESPN going to handle not having any Big Ten rights? That's a question no one can answer. Will ESPN suits give all their talking heads secret marching orders, turning all their talking heads into going the full Mark May against an entire conference? Will their analysts place their SEC pom poms below their desk or above them? No one can really know until it happens, but parties on both sides will be watching for signs of bias in both directions. 

ESPN sets the tone for debates in college football, and the Big Ten may find life outside the nest is different than life inside of it. Remember, in 2011 the NHL left ESPN to take NBC's money, but then saw nearly all day-to-day NHL talk vanish from ESPN airwaves. The NHL is now back on ESPN. 

On the flip side, Big Ten fans argue ESPN is already biased in favor of the SEC and that love affair will only increase in 2024, when the ESPN becomes the exclusive home of SEC football, and so it was best to go elsewhere. The SEC will have the ESPN publicity machine, and the Big Ten will have Joel Klatt, Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless. 

Either way, this will be a fun subplot to follow, assuming the two parties don't carve out a package at the last minute.

What will the Big Ten on CBS look like? 

Something like this.

The interesting thing here -- well, interesting if you're a nerd -- is that CBS repeated its own history with NFL rights. For decades, CBS was the home of the NFL's NFC package, which is universally considered the more valuable of the two conferences thanks to marquee brands like the Cowboys, Packers and 49ers and A-list locations like New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Chicago. When Fox came along in the mid 1990s, CBS refused to match its $400 million per year offer, and so the NFC went to Fox and CBS lost all NFL rights, which is like falling off the face of the earth in the sports television world. 

Four years later, CBS paid $100 million more than it was willing to pay to retain NFC rights... for AFC rights. 

CBS's contract for the 3:30 ET SEC game was the biggest steal in sports TV. The SEC Game of the Week routinely draws the biggest audience in college football, at a paltry $55 million a year.

The SEC left CBS for ABC/ESPN at $300 million a year over 10 years. CBS is now reportedly set to pay the Big Ten $350 million a year, for "B" games.

What about NBC? Does this mean they're done with Notre Dame? Will NBC force them to join the Big Ten? I'll leave the conspiracy theories to everyone else, but the expectation is NBC will air Big Ten games in addition to Notre Dame. Think Florida State-Notre Dame at 2:30, then Wisconsin-USC at 6:30. 

Finally, the most important question. How does this effect me, the typical non-Big Ten college football fan? Remember when the College Football Playoff nearly expanded last year, only for the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC shot it down? There's still no clear reason why the two coastal leagues voted against expansion, but the Big Ten's reasoning is crystal clear: the conference was about to hop fully in bed with Fox, and Fox wanted something in return.

If the CFP expanded last year, ESPN would've retained full rights to the 12-team Playoff. When the CFP expands to 12 or 16 in 2026, the original contract will expire and all TV rights will be up for bid. By bringing the rights to market, it likely puts money in everyone's pocket.

ESPN is, and wants to remain, the hub for all things college football. Losing Big Ten rights motivates that network to retain as much as possible of the new Playoff. We already knew Fox would want a piece, and they'll be even more invested as the primary Big Ten rights holder. But by grabbing Big Ten rights, CBS and NBC now have incentive to bid as well. Competition, multiple bidders, stretching a beloved American product to its limit in cold-blooded pursuit of the most money possible -- that's capitalism, baby.