There has been talk of Joe Buck heading to ESPN for weeks since that network agreed to a deal with Troy Aikman, but a complicating factor was that unlike Aikman (who was able to opt-out and become a free agent ), Buck had one year left on his contract with Fox. As Jim Miller discussed earlier this month, this created a potential “horse trade” between ESPN and Fox to bring Buck to ESPN this year, and he specifically mentioned “You know, if I’m Fox, I might ask for two or three Big Ten games.” Well, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported Friday that Fox had granted ESPN permission to speak to Buck, with a deal expected shortly. Marchand then noted on Twitter later Friday that in return, Fox should receive the right to pick an additional Big Ten game before ESPN this fall:
Fox and ESPN spoke about the compensation for the first time late last night. Fox will receive the right to pick a Big 10 game before ESPN next season, a knowledgeable source has said.
It’s a bit more complicated than that, I’m told, but that’s the point. https://t.co/M6Rkr6y6GO
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) March 12, 2022
Marchand notes there that it’s “a bit more complicated than that”, so there could be other elements to that as well. But this choice is certainly important and valuable. In the current Big Ten agreements, which run through the 2022-23 season, ESPN and Fox currently have an equal split of Big Ten rights to football and men’s basketball tonnage (CBS also a small basketball-only package, but that’s not important here). But Fox pays the conference about $240 million a year, while ESPN pays about $190 million.
The two big differences that cause Fox to pay a lot more are that they get the conference championship game and the first pick in regular season football games. They tend to use that first pick on Ohio State-Michigan, which is sometimes the most of the year. watched the regular season game and is still Fox’s most-watched regular season game; so when this match didn’t happen in 2020, it was a blow for them. So those picks can mean a lot, and there’s some value in that for Fox even if this deal only acquires one additional pick (it can be more, with that “more complicated than that” note).
There are several potential candidate games Fox could use this pick on, but the pick AA heard is most likely the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the Ohio State Buckeyes in Week 1, Sept. 3. (Yes, Notre Dame isn’t a Big Ten team, but this game is part of the Big Ten televised package because Ohio State is home.) It would be a useful game for Fox on several foreheads. For one thing, both teams are good TV draws overall (in 2019, Ohio State was the most-watched team and Notre Dame was eighth). after last season).
Update: ESPN’s Burke Magnus says that’s not the case:
— Burke Magnus (@burkemagnus) March 13, 2022
Our original post continues below:
But beyond that, there aren’t a ton of other great games this week that Fox could possibly feature in their Big Noon Saturday slot (the main slot they care about). Power 5 games on Power 5 this Saturday are Georgia-Oregon, Illinois-Indiana, Utah-Florida, Rutgers-Boston College and Louisville-Syracuse. The last three of those games have SEC or ACC teams at home, so ESPN has the rights. Georgia-Oregon is in the Pac-12 package, which ESPN and Fox have parted ways with, but noon kickoffs in the East aren’t ideal for West Coast teams, where it’s nine a.m. morning in the Pacific (the Pac-12 has explored this idea, but has so far only done so on rare occasions). to be Big Noon’s choice if Fox weren’t able to get Notre Dame-Ohio State, but they would absolutely prefer the Fighting Irish and Buckeyes. And that would allow them to start their season (well, the main part of their season; there will be be Week 0 games and midweek games before that) with a bang. (It may not sit well with cool s and with fans, though; there have been a million cases of schools and fans complaining about those midday kicks.)
We don’t yet have full confirmation that this is how Fox will use the pick they acquired in exchange for Buck. But it seems likely at this point. And if that happens, it could end up being a pretty good trade for There’s no point in them keeping a disgruntled Buck for a year, and it allows them to move on to their succession plans immediately; it also gives them a dramatic potential boost in BFC viewership for at least a week So maybe it’s even a better trade than when ESPN parent Disney got NBC’s Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in in exchange for Al Michaels terminating his contract in 2006. Yes, Oswald has appeared in some Disney video games and theme parks since, but overall the impact has been limited. Getting Notre Dame-Ohio State in exchange for Buck might be a bigger deal.
[Andrew Marchand on Twitter]