There’s a great scene in one of my favorite movies from when I was a kid, Heavyweights. Tony Perkis, the evil camp owner played brilliantly by Ben Stiller, is trying to get the kids at his fat camp to lose weight in order to, in essence, exploit them for profit. Well, he’s not been happy with the results and so he starts to treat them pretty poorly including cancelling meals. Here’s how he delivers the message:
Today, I’ve got to play the role of Tony Perkis. I can’t promise that I’ll be as good in the role as Stiller, but I can promise you that I will be just as blunt.
Streaming is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Purdue games will be on Peacock, they will be streamed only on Peacock, and you will either get Peacock or you will not be able to watch Purdue games. This includes both football and basketball, men’s and women’s. It’s that simple. The new media rights deal that the Big Ten Conference signed over the summer was the most lucrative in history. It included $7 billion over seven years. This agreement included deals with NBC, CBS, and Fox. Eventual distribution (approximately year 3) will be between $80-$100 million per team, per year.
Now, these numbers might change slightly given the introduction of two additional teams to the conference, but the contract also contained language allowing for increased payouts should the conference expand once again which I assume would be activated starting next season. According to Brett McMurphy of The Action Network, the clause in the contract indicates that the total compensation to the Big Ten Conference, and thus to the member schools, could reach up to $10 billion following any expansion beyond 16 teams which we now know to be happening next season.
To put this reported $80-$100 million in perspective, during 2019-2020, the last year prior to Covid which jacked up all revenue figures, the conference distributed $54.3 million to each school. That’s nearly a doubling of funds paid out to each school, or at the very least $25.7 million additional per year if you focus on the low end of estimates.
Also, I want to put the amount of games on Peacock into perspective here. For football, there will be eight games per year on Peacock. Does it stink that so far at least three Purdue games are on there? Sure it does, but it’s something that this new media rights deal has necessitated. Now, looking ahead to basketball season, Peacock will carry up to 47 men’s basketball games (including 32 conference games) while they will also have 30 women’s basketball games (20 conference games). We don’t know which of these games will be on Peacock nor do we know how many of them will be Purdue games, but with 47 men’s games on the network it’s unavoidable that Purdue games will air on Peacock.
So, what does this mean for you, the consumer? Well, it means that if you want to watch every single game of Purdue’s this season you’re going to have to get Peacock. You can hunt around for deals, like the one I shared recently for Big Ten alumni, you can pay month to month, or you can just bite the bullet and subscribe for a year like I did.
I’d like to put this in perspective though. With the new media rights deal the Big Ten Conference does not have a deal in place with ESPN. That means ESPN has no media rights to Big Ten games. Now, Big Ten schools will still play on ESPN, as we’ve seen so far this football season when Purdue played Virginia Tech, because of media rights deals with other conferences. However, that means there will be fewer games on ESPN+ and on the 4th and 5th tier ESPN channels that aren’t included with the basic or sometimes even next tier up cable packages. I know in the past I haven’t been able to watch games because I didn’t have ESPNU or ESPNNews.
Just to rebut the argument I’m invariably going to be hearing in the comments, no, this is not what the Big Ten Network was created for. No, not all games would or could ever be accommodated by one network. Yes, the Big Ten Network will still air a ton of both football and men’s basketball. Looking at just men’s basketball, the network will air 126 men’s basketball games per season. Compare that to the 47 Peacock will get and you can see a real difference.
So, this isn’t a new problem. I guess ultimately, my point is this, would you rather go back in time? Remember when all games were on Channel 4 in Indiana and if you weren’t in Indiana you likely couldn’t see the game? Hell, even then not all games were on TV. Some of them simply weren’t available at all. Go even further back and the vast majority of the games weren’t available to watch on TV at all. Purdue also had plenty of things in the Athletic Department that needed fixed back then too but no money to do so. Just in the past decade and a half Purdue has done major renovations to Ross-Ade, Mackey Arena, built a new baseball stadium, and made improvements to basically every facility that deals with athletics including new buildings focused on academics. Would any of that have been possible without the large media rights deals? I think not. Or at the very least the timeframe would’ve been decades longer.
Purdue has always been a middle of the pack school money wise. It’s just how things are. What that has meant is that Purdue has had to do more with less. Now, with this additional $25-$45 million per year (or more if the contract does increase to $10 billion) Purdue finds itself in a situation that it hasn’t been in, perhaps ever in the history of the department. They are flush with cash and can begin to tick off the backlog of things they want to do. Here’s just a partial list of things I can think of offhand that become much much easier with this money:
- Add the second deck to Ross-Ade when attendance demands it.
- Retain and pay high powered assistant coaches for football and men’s basketball.
- Given the new rules regarding paying players a healthier stipend, Purdue can compete with anyone out there.
- Hire additional strength and conditioning staff to allow a greater focus on individual sports and individual athletes.
- Find a sneaker connection to get Zach Edey more than one pair of shoes per year.
- Pump more money into the recruiting budget for all sports.
- Fix the scoreboard/play clock/shot clock issues that seem to plague us.
Those are just idea that came to me in mere minutes. I don’t know what is on the honey-do list for Bobisnki, but I would imagine when the new checks start rolling in he’s going to have people coming into his office like Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers after Springfield Elementary struck oil on the school grounds.
Purdue is headed into a great future with more money than they’ve ever had. All of this is possible because of the media rights deal that includes Peacock. For all those who have complained that Purdue isn’t competitive enough or that Purdue simply isn’t taking things seriously enough, this is how you get to that proverbial next level that fans always wanted Joe Tiller to reach. This is how you do it. Money. You need money in college sports and to pretend otherwise is folly. If you’ve been clamoring for Purdue to take that next step, but you won’t shell out $39.99 to subscribe to Peacock (that’s literally under $4 a month) to watch them are you really committed to this?
Peacock, and streaming, are here to stay, deal with it.