CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois football games could be coming to WCIA 3 after the Big Ten announced a historic new media rights deal on Thursday. The conference agreed to terms on a seven-year deal worth reportedly more than $7 billion to broadcast games on CBS, FOX and NBC. It’s estimated each Big Ten school, including Illinois, will eventually receive upwards of $80 to $100 million per year in revenue sharing distribution as a result, according to a report from ESPN.
“The Big Ten has been a valued partner for more than three decades and we are thrilled to expand that relationship by adding Big Ten football to our portfolio of marquee properties,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement. “The combination of CBS Sports’ proven record in elevating college conferences to new heights, our standard of excellence and the strength and reach of Paramount Global’s linear and digital platforms, will create a powerful showcase for the Big Ten and its student-athletes. Together with Kevin Warren and the team at the Big Ten, we look forward to growing the conference to the highest of levels, reaching the widest audience.”
The deal begins on July 1, 2023 and runs through the 2029-2030 athletic calendar. The lineup on a fall football Saturday will kickoff with an 11 a.m. game on FOX, followed by a 2:30 p.m. game on CBS, then an NBC telecast in prime time. Big Ten Network will continue to carry football, basketball and Olympic sports throughout the entire year. The new deal focuses primarily on football and men’s and women’s basketball.
“The Big Ten is having a historic summer under Commissioner Kevin Warren’s leadership,” Illinois Chancellor Robert J. Jones said in a statement. “We started with the addition of UCLA and USC, and now we are celebrating this new seven-year media rights agreement. The new contract will provide critical stability to our conference schools and athletic programs during the most dynamic period of change college athletics has ever experienced. This agreement is great news for Illinois Athletics, and it gives even more fans more ways to enjoy the most competitive and most exciting athletic conference in the nation.”
WCIA 3 will start televising Big Ten football games in 2023, starting with seven games that season, along with regular season and postseason men’s basketball. The Big Ten women’s basketball tournament will also appear on CBS for the first time. The Big Ten men’s basketball tournament coverage remains unchanged, it’s been broadcast on CBS for 25 years.
The following year in 2024, CBS will televise up to 15 regular season Big Ten football games, including an added annual Black Friday game in the afternoon. In addition, FOX has renewed its agreement to televise football and men’s basketball, highlighted by the Big Noon Saturday games.
“Today is a memorable day for the Big Ten Conference and Illinois Athletics,” Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “The Conference’s new media deal will further amplify the brand of our league through unprecedented partnerships with a collection of the most prominent, dynamic media companies in the world. By virtue of our new agreements, we will deliver unmatched visibility and opportunity to the University of Illinois, our Fighting Illini teams, and our student-athletes. We expect to reach new, more diverse audiences and continue to build and expand our Illini fan base. These agreements further solidify the position of the Big Ten as one of the most stable, progressive, respected conferences in the history of college sports; as a founding member, we are proud of the Conference’s longstanding values and its leadership position in the midst of such a unique, rapidly changing time in intercollegiate athletics. We are grateful to Commissioner Warren and our colleagues across the Conference who have worked so diligently to make these opportunities possible, and we look forward to a brighter future for Illinois Athletics thanks, in part, to these new partnerships.”
NBC is new to the equation, with the network set to produce 14-to-16 games every year, launching Big Ten Saturday Night. Those games will also be streamed on Peacock, along with exclusive football and basketball games every season. The pay service streaming platform will carry eight regular season Big Ten football games, along with as many as 47 regular season men’s basketball games (32 conference and 15 non-conference), along with 30 regular season women’s basketball games (20 conference and 10 non-conference).
All three networks will trade off broadcasting the Big Ten football championship games during the new deal with CBS getting the rights in 2024 and 2028. FOX will carry the game in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, with NBC getting its lone shot to air the game in 2026.