Fox Sports has jumped back into the college football fray, signing a deal to carry the first six Big Ten title games in 2011-16.
While financials were not disclosed, a source eyeballed the value of the pact at around $145 million, or $24 million per year. ESPN was also in the running for the rights package, which was unveiled on Thursday.
The deal marks Fox’ return to big-time college football after a two-year hiatus. In 2008, ESPN outbid Fox for the rights to the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls, effectively putting the broadcaster out of the college pigskin business.
The first Big Ten championship game will be played on December 3, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The winner will go on to compete in either the Rose Bowl or the BCS National Championship game.
As a 49 percent stakeholder in the Big Ten Network, Fox enjoys a significant platform on which to cross-promote the title game. The RSN is available in 40 million households nationwide and carries between 35 and 45 football games each season.
“We are excited to announce that Fox Sports will be the official broadcast partner for the Big Ten championship games,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany, by way of announcing the deal. Delany added that the pact now puts the conference in bed with three of the four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox) as well as ESPN and the CBS College Sports Network.