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After shutting down college football for the 2020 season, the Big Ten Conference has reversed course.
What Happened: The Big Ten Conference voted unanimously this week to begin college football games on Oct. 23, 2020. The league shut down the season back in August with an 11-3 vote against playing.
The league will follow “significant medical protocols” including a color rating system for players and staff testing positive. Teams in red will not be allowed to practice or play games. Players will have to sit out a significant time if testing positive.
The ACC and Big 12 Conferences kicked off football games last weekend. The SEC conference plans on playing football games later this month. The PAC-12 Conference remains the only Power 5 Conference to not be scheduled to play football games this season.
Why It’s Important: Big Ten football games provide huge ratings for broadcasters. Fox Corporation (NASDAQ: FOX) has rights to many of the games and also is a 51% owner in the Big Ten Network.
ESPN, a Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) brand, has rights to some Big Ten games an also features many Big Ten teams in the bowl season, providing huge ratings.
The Nov. 30, 2019 game between Ohio State and Michigan had 12.42 million viewers, ranking second for college football games on the year. The Nov. 23 game between Penn State and Ohio State had 9.43 million viewers, ranking fourth. Both games aired on Fox.
Bowl games on ESPN featuring Ohio State, Wisconsin, University of Michigan, and Penn State University all ranked in the top 10 for most-watched bowl games.
See Also: Big House, Big Loss: Michigan Football's Lost Season Creates Economic Uncertainty In Ann Arbor
What's Next: The return of Big Ten football is also likely to provide a boost to sports betting players like DraftKings Inc (NASDAQ: DKNG) and Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ: PENN). Sports betting is legalized in several of the states Big Ten teams compete in.
Shares of Fox are up 4% at the time of publication. DraftKings was up more than 6%.
Photo credit: larrysphatpage
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