The Big Ten's current television deal doesn't expire until after the 2016 season, but that doesn't mean potential suitors aren't already planning to get in on the bidding for a new contract.
And one of those suitors is Fox, as Fox Sports' vice president for programming, Mike Mulvihill told the Cedar-Rapids Gazette that the network plans to make a push for the conference's broadcast rights.
"I think when the time comes, we will certainly be an active participant in next round of Big Ten rights talks," Mulvihill said. "Clearly we have a majority interest in the Big Ten Network. We have an ongoing relationship with the conference with the Big Ten Championship Game. I think the relationship between our management and Big Ten Conference management is exceptionally strong. I expect that we'll be a very active participant in those discussions."
Fox Sports currently has deals with the Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA, and going after the Big Ten makes a lot of sense for the network. As Mulvihill mentioned, Fox already owns 51 percent of the Big Ten Network and broadcasts the Big Ten Championship Game, so it's already invested in the conference. Broadcasting regular-season games seems like the next logical step.
Fox Sports might also make sense for the Big Ten. Let's not forget that ESPN will have started the SEC Network by the time 2016 comes around, and with the network being invested in the SEC the Big Ten could find itself slipping down the network's pecking order.
Of course, logic and sense will have absolutely nothing to do with which network -- be it Fox, ESPN or somebody else -- ends up with Big Ten media rights. It'll just be the network that offers the most money.