Changing the Channel this year for OSU-Mich Game

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The Ohio State-Michigan game – a fixture on ABC for 30 years – will have a new home this fall.

As has been expected since news of the Big Ten’s new television deal came out last year, The Game is expected to move to Fox for the first time ever in 2017.

Fox conducted its annual up front presentations for advertisers earlier today in New York City. The network included the Big Ten television package in its presentation, noting a pair of games that have already been scheduled for the network.

Fox’s presentation specifically included the Sept. 23 nonconference match-up with Notre Dame visiting Michigan State and the Nov. 25 showdown between Ohio State and Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Fox featured the Big Ten package along with touting its rights for the Major League Baseball postseason and NFL regular season games. The network said it intends to “own the fall.”

The Big Ten and its television partners have not formally announced any start times or television assignments for the 2017 season. A source indicated the conference should have the season’s first three weekends and all homecoming games at Big Ten schools set by May 31. In past years, most night games have been set by the end of April.

Of course, this is no ordinary year with the new television alignment. The league’s new TV deal is worth a reported $2.6 billion over six years. The deal averages $440 million per season with $220 million from Fox, $190 million from ESPN and $10 million from CBS for basketball, according to reports.

The Cedar Rapids-Gazette reported that per-school payouts are conservatively estimated to top a nation’s best $43 million in 2017-18 and could top out at $54 million per school at the end of the contract.

Sources indicated that Fox and ESPN would essentially hold a “draft” to pick which weekend they would have the top choice of games. As the high bidder, Fox would get the first pick. The Ohio State-Michigan game has been the Big Ten’s most consistent television draw for decades and it is a no-brainer that Fox would use its first pick to take that game most years.

It’s unclear what has held up the announcement of the Big Ten’s early season games. It is also unclear which networks will have games. Fox and ESPN are certainties, as are ESPN2, ESPNU and the Big Ten Network. It’s not known if ESPN will continue to put Big Ten games on ABC or whether Fox will have broadcast network exclusivity. It’s also unknown if Fox Sports 1 will have access to Big Ten inventory.

Ohio State opens the 2017 team with a rare Big Ten road opener at Indiana. That game will be shown nationally in prime time by one of the conference TV partners. It seems likely that OSU’s games against Oklahoma (Sept. 9), at Nebraska (Oct. 14), against Penn State (Oct. 28) and at Iowa (Nov. 4) could also be prime time games.

One more note on Fox's coverage: Energetic Gus Johnson is one of the network's top play-by-play announcers, while former OSU All-American Chris Spielman is the network's lead college analyst. Look for Spielman to be back on the OSU-Michigan game after covering it previously for ABC/ESPN.

The Ohio State-Michigan game was selected as the greatest rivalry in all of sport by in 1999, Michigan and Ohio State will meet for the 100th straight year on the gridiron this season. The two programs have played every year since 1918, a streak that ranks eighth in Division I-A for the longest uninterrupted series.

In 2016, the OSU-Michigan game was televised for the 50th consecutive year and 61st overall time. That was the 30th consecutive year that ABC has televised the Michigan-Ohio State game, with all but the 1995 game being a national television broadcast; the 2005 game was a split national broadcast on ABC and ESPN.

Since 1967, every game in the series has been televised. That includes 30 national television appearances.

The first game ever televised between the two programs was a 21-0 win by the Wolverines in Ann Arbor during the 1947 national championship season.

Mike Miller

Mike Miller

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