By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
December 3, 2012
If money is the driving force behind the annual round of college sports conference realignment, the Big Ten is betting there’s millions of dollars to be gained adding Rutgers and the University of Maryland. Rutgers and Maryland, which have neither the athletic pedigree nor geographic proximity of the other Big Ten members, do have one critical differentiator from the conference’s other schools: access to the New York City and Washington, D.C. media markets, which combined have nearly 10 million TV households. Adding these schools and these media markets in theory could provide a windfall in subscriber fees for the conference-owned Big Ten Network.
However, that assumes residents in New York and D.C. are passionate enough about Rutgers, Maryland, and college sports to want easier access to the Big Ten Network. If they do, then the conference’s expansion gamble pays off. If not, the conference could be scrambling to maintain its $24 million TV payout to schools with the addition of two new members.