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What could the new Big Ten media rights deal mean for the Gophers?

The deal, announced Thursday, goes into effect in 2023, one year before USC and UCLA join the conference to make it 16 members. Eventually, the 16 schools will share more than $1 billion per year.

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Minnesota
Minnesota Gophers head coach P.J Fleck leads his team onto the field prior to the game against the Bowling Green Falcons on Sept. 25, 2021, at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Harrison Barden / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Big Ten's new seven-year, $7 billion media rights deal with Fox, CBS and NBC figures to have a major impact on the University of Minnesota Gophers football team and athletic department.

The deal, announced Thursday, goes into effect in 2023, one year before USC and UCLA join the conference to make it 16 members. Eventually, the 16 schools will share more than $1 billion per year.

The deal will "showcase Minnesota to more fans, alumni and recruits than ever before," Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement. "The breadth and magnitude of this deal is historic, and we are thrilled that Minnesota student-athletes will receive unparalleled national exposure."

Here is how the enormous influx of money and broadcast airtime could affect the U.

Doubling of annual media revenue

The previous Big Ten media rights deal was signed in 2017, a six-year contract with ESPN and Fox worth $2.64 billion — or about $440 million per season. The new deal dwarfs that, and will create a dramatic increase in media revenue. In 2019, the most recent athletic department budget not affected by the pandemic, the Gophers earned $45 million in conference distributed media rights — $36 million for football, $9 million for men's basketball. While the new contract will gradually increase over time, it will eventually see the conference distribute $80 million to $100 million in media revenue to the Gophers annually for football and men's basketball, according to multiple media reports.

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For perspective, consider: In 2019, total operating revenue for the entire athletic department was $130 million.Saturday television takeoverBig Ten football will truly take over Saturday national broadcasts starting in 2024 when the Southeastern Conference moves from CBS to ABC. At that point, Fox will air its Big Ten game of the day at 11 a.m., followed by the CBS Big Ten game of the week at 2:30 p.m. and then NBC will have "Big Ten Saturday Night" in prime time.

That's six Big Ten teams on linear national television sets every week, which could give the Gophers and coach P.J. Fleck a larger national platform. In 2021 the Gophers were on national network broadcasts twice, facing Ohio State in the season opener and Wisconsin in their regular-season finale on Fox. The NBC primetime broadcasts will start in 2023, while CBS will carry seven Big Ten games in 2023.

Basketball viewing impacted

Losing ESPN as a broadcast partner might not have a big impact for football viewership since so many games will be on national television, but it creates questions for how fans will watch Gophers men's and women's basketball. The Gophers men had six games and the women had one on ESPN networks last season. The biggest change is that Peacock — the NBC streaming service — will stream as many as 47 men's basketball games (32 conference games) and 30 women's games (20 conference) per season. The Big Ten Network will still be a primary broadcast partner for the sport, while CBS will air 11 regular-season men's games in 2023 and 15 per season starting in 2024.

Olympic sports unchanged

While the new media rights deal will alter the landscape for football and men's and women's basketball, the conference announced that Olympic sports coverage will not be part of the deal. Those rights will remain with the Big Ten Network — and its streaming service, B1G+ — with plans to currently "carry the same level of Olympic sport content as before."

©2022 StarTribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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