USC, UCLA In Big 10: Which Media, Streaming Firms Could Win From 2 College Football Superconferences

Zinger Key Points
  • UCLA and USC are joining the Big Ten Conference in a move that further creates superconferences in college sports.
  • News of the additional Big Ten schools has seen companies like Apple enter negotiations for media rights deals.

This year's college football games are just a month and a half away from starting. The sport is one of the biggest storylines in recent weeks, with the ever-changing makeup of super conferences. Here are the recently announced changes and what they could mean for several media companies.

What Happened: On Thursday, USC and UCLA announced they were joining the Big Ten Conference in 2024 after conference presidents approved their additions unanimously.

“The unanimous vote signifies the deep respect and welcoming culture our entire conference has for the University of Southern California, under the leadership of President Carol Folt, and the University of California, Los Angeles, under the leadership of Chancellor Gene Block,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said.

UCLA and USC join the Big Ten from the PAC-12 conference. Based in California, both are thousands of miles away from the nearest Big Ten university school. 

Finances were among the biggest reasons cited for the move, as were competitiveness and branding.

The move by UCLA and USC follows Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 to join the Southeastern Conference, commonly known as the SEC, in 2025.

With these exoduses, many college football and college sports analysts have pointed out how dominant the Big Ten and SEC could be on the field and in terms of attracting media dollars.

Related Link: Apple Ramps Up Sports Content With Major League Soccer Deal: What Investors And Sports Fans Should Know 

Why It’s Important: The addition of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten could increase the amount of money the conference collects for media rights deals. That has become imminent immediately, with the Sports Business Journal reporting that Apple Inc AAPL has re-engaged with the conference over media rights after the news broke Thursday.

The Big Ten was planning to wrap rights negotiations in July. Sources say that could extend into August or September, with the two additions potentially leading to more companies involved and a bigger payday. 

The Big Ten could be the first college conference to pass the $1 billion mark annually. Fox and ESPN currently pay around $430 annually to the Big Ten for the rights to games.

Fox Corporation FOX FOXA is the majority owner of the Big Ten Network, with a 61% stake. The Big Ten Conference owns the rest of the channel, which was launched in 2007. Fox is expected to carry around half of the Big Ten’s games.

CBS, a unit of Paramount Global PARA PARAA, is expected to try and grab some high-profile games from the league.

Amazon.com Inc AMZNComcast Corporation CMCSA owned NBC and Walt Disney Company’s DIS ESPN are also among the bidders for additional games.

Apple and Warner Bros. Discovery WBD are seen as other potential bidders.

One of the items that could help the Big Ten and the potential media rights deals is the difference in time zones. With USC and UCLA in the pacific time zone, the Big Ten could see the potential to spread its games out more on Saturdays and get multiple packages sold to different companies, with games airing from noon to the late hours in eastern time.

The SEC Conference is majority-owned by Walt Disney, whose ESPN unit also has taken the rights for SEC football games starting in 2024 away from CBS.

Fox and Disney could become big winners in the college football space, and the further creation of superconferences could see streaming companies like Apple and Amazon recognize the value of rights deals being huge in coming years. 

Photo via Photo Works on Shutterstock

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