Menu

Fox gets extra Big Ten game for early Buck exit

By John Ourand
Fox will show the Sept. 1 Penn State-Purdue game.getty images

The price ESPN paid to convince Fox Sports to let Joe Buck leave a year early to call “Monday Night Football?” One extra Big Ten football game that Fox will carry to kick off the upcoming football season.

This season, Fox will have the rights to carry an opening week game in prime time — an opportunity that the network believes will bring in millions of extra ad sales dollars for the network. That game, in a previously unplanned window, will be the Sept. 1 Penn State-Purdue tilt, scheduled for a Thursday night.

Here’s how the breakdown works.

Under the contract terms that ESPN and Fox Sports signed with the Big Ten in 2017, each network carries 27 Big Ten football games per season. But this coming season, Fox will have the rights to 28 games, and ESPN will have the rights to 26.

Fox Sports gets the first pick every season, and ESPN gets the second pick, leading into a straight-line draft. That means Fox gets all the odd number picks (1, 3, 5, etc.), and ESPN gets all the even number ones (2, 4, 6, etc.).

Every year, Fox has used its first pick to claim the always highly rated Ohio State-Michigan game. But that’s not exactly how the networks make their picks. They do not select specific games, like Ohio State-Michigan. Instead, they identify the weeks where they want to exercise the first pick.

This coming year, for example, Michigan plays Ohio State the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so Fox almost certainly will use its top pick for that week.

Ohio State plays Notre Dame on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend — another game that’s expected to bring in huge ratings. This seems certain to be the weekend for ESPN’s top pick. Even though Notre Dame is not in the Big Ten, because the game is at Ohio State, it is part of this process.

Several times a season, ESPN and Fox have picked a week based on a particular game but ended up selecting a different game that becomes more appealing as the season progresses.

Fox Sports wanted to claim that Penn State-Purdue game as its extra game. ESPN agreed, saying that it would not pick that game’s window, and Fox could have it as the 54th and final pick of the selection process. Typically, that game window would have been one of the top 30 picks. The game was not as valuable to ESPN, which has a West Virginia-Pittsburgh game scheduled for that night.

Disney’s chairman of ESPN and Sports, Jimmy Pitaro, cut this deal directly with Fox Sports President Eric Shanks during a relatively quick phone call.  ESPN felt like it had leverage in these discussions. If Fox Sports had held out for a higher quality game, ESPN was prepared to offer its play-by-play slot to one of the best all-time announcers in Al Michaels.

This deal harks back to 2006, when Oswald the Lucky Rabbit played a part in Michaels’ move from ESPN to NBC. That was when NBC traded the rights to the cartoon character to ESPN as part of a deal allowing Michaels out of his contract early to call “Sunday Night Football” games.

A case could be made that, 16 years on, Joe Buck was traded for a Boilermaker.

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: August 12, 2022

FIFA shifts opener of World Cup; MLB shows well in Iowa; Broncos tab a new president and Boehly retains sports venue design pioneer.  

SBJ Unpacks: MLS All Star Week

Ahead of the MLS All-Star Game, Alex Silverman was joined by CBS Sports' Grant Wahl and World Soccer Talk's Christopher Harris to discuss the current state of MLS. Among the topics discussed: MLS All-Star MLS Expansion MLS-Apple Deal Future of MLS

SBJ I Factor: Jed York

SBJ I Factor: Jed York, presented by Allied Sports SBJ I Factor presented by Allied Sports features an interview with San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York. York is in his 17th year with the organization and his 12th as CEO. He is a two-time SBJ Forty Under 40 honoree as a member of the classes of 2012 and 2013. York talks with SBJ’s Abe Madkour about what he learned from growing up in the sports business, working in multiple departments at the team, the challenges of building Levi’s Stadium, and how his leadership style has evolved through the years. SBJ I Factor is a monthly podcast offering interviews with sports executives who have been recipients of one of the magazine’s awards, such as Forty Under 40, Game Changers and others.

Shareable URL copied to clipboard!

https://sbjcd01.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/Journal/Issues/2022/03/21/Insiders/Fox-Big-Ten.aspx

Sorry, something went wrong with the copy but here is the link for you.

https://sbjcd01.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/Journal/Issues/2022/03/21/Insiders/Fox-Big-Ten.aspx

CLOSE
;