Big East Renews With Fox, Lines Up New Rights Deals With NBC, TNT (2024)

anthony crupi

·4 min read

The Big East Conference has inked a new package of six-year media rights deals, re-upping with lead partner Fox Sports while bringing on NBC Sports and TNT Sports in secondary roles. With one year left on the legacy contracts with Fox and CBS Sports, the new deal will tip off with the 2025-26 academic year and run through 2031-32.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Upon the conclusion of the current 12-year deal, the Big East will have collected $500 million in rights fees, pulling in just shy of $41.7 million per year. Estimates of the value of the new agreements see the conference nearly doubling its annual rights payments at a range of $75 million to $80 million per year.

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In maintaining its status as top banana, Fox will carry at least 80 men’s and women’s basketball games per season, while holding onto the rights to televise the final of the storied men’s Big East Tournament. The annual showdown at Madison Square Garden has been a fixture of the spring sports scene since 1980, when the conference was dominated by the likes of Syracuse, Georgetown, Villanova and St. John’s.

After a series of defections and realignments, the Big East now is largely a collection of Catholic schools, with nine of the 11 members sharing that designation. Last year’s championship game between UConn and Marquette averaged a post-reformation high of 1.68 million viewers on Fox; by way of comparison, the final Big East tourney final on ESPN between Louisville and Syracuse averaged 3.42 million back in March 2013.

If the TV ratings haven’t quite caught up to the numbers generated under the old guard, the competition within the lines remains elite. The Big East has claimed four of the last eight NCAA men’s hoops titles, with UConn putting up back-to-back wins in 2023 and 2024 after Villanova brought home the hardware in 2016 and 2018.

While CBS has long served as a Big East media partner, it has not renewed its deal with the conference. Instead, NBC sibling Peaco*ck will get a head start on covering the league’s men’s hoops this coming season with a selection of 25 regular-season games and five tourney outings, before assuming a more expansive slate of 60-plus games (men’s and women’s) in 2025-26.

For its part, TNT Sports will carry some 65 regular-season games per year once the new deal officially gets underway. TNT’s investment in the Big East comes on the heels of a flurry of maneuvers by the NBA’s long-time partner, including a 10-year, $650 million deal to carry the French Open and a pact with ESPN to sublicense a clutch of College Football Playoff games.

The fate of the NBA on TNT remains to be seen, as usurping offers from interested parties such as NBC Sports and Amazon have yet to be papered.

“Our new agreement … will provide enhanced revenue and long-term stability for the conference, create benefits for our student-athletes and allow us to remain nationally competitive in our marquee sport: basketball,” said Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, president of Creighton University and chair of the Big East Conference board of directors, in a joint statement issued Thursday morning.

All told, the new package will ensure that some 150 regular-season men’s games are distributed across the partners’ various media platforms, while coverage of women’s basketball effectively will be tripled to around 65 games per year.

The expanded coverage and extra revenue arrive as the Big East looks to navigate the NCAA’s proposal to enlist non-Power Five schools to help defray the $2.77 billion in back damages owed to former college athletes under the House, Hubbard and Carter antitrust rulings. Under the formula devised by the NCAA board of governors, the Big East will be on the hook for as much as $70 million in restitution payments over the next decade—a seemingly excessive penalty given that only one of its member schools, UConn, fields an FBS football program.

Big East commissioner Val Ackerman has objected to the prospect of assuming such a financial burden, noting that the liabilities assessed are disproportionately high. A final ruling on the settlement fees is expected to be handed down before the end of the calendar year.

The investment bank Allen & Company and the law firm Proskauer Rose advised the Big East throughout its negotiations over the new rights package.

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