CBS Sports Net, CBS Ink Big East Pact with Fox Sports

Cable, Broadcast Nets Will Air Up to 30 Basketball Games per Season under Sublicensing Deal
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CBS Sports has scored rights to Big East Conference college hoops action via an agreement with Fox Sports.

Under the sublicensing contract, CBS and CBS Sports Network will air Big East basketball games, tipping off with the 2013-14 season through the 2018-19 school year. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In March, Fox Sports secured the rights to all conference-controlled men's basketball games, select rights to women's basketball, all Olympic sports and extensive rights for highlights and to produce ancillary programming. Recently launched FS1 is the primary outlet for Big East basketball.

The Fox deal marks the second significant sublicensing pact for CBS Sports Network over the past two weeks. The service on Aug. 20 reached a seven-year pact with ESPN under which it will air basketball and football games from American Athletic Conference, many of whose members were part of the “old Big East.” Earlier this year, the Big East conference severed, with the “Catholic 7” schools forming a new conference, while retaining the "Big East" moniker; the other schools rebranded into the American Athletic Conference.

During the 2013-14 season, CBS Sports, via the Fox sublicensing pact, will broadcast two games, while the national cable network will air 18 contests.  Both CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network will have access to non-conference and conference tilts. Beginning with the 2014-15 campaign, the deal provides for 30 men’s basketball games per year: up to five on CBS, with the remainder slated for CBS Sports Network.

"The Big East Conference has a tremendous tradition. It’s great for CBS Sports to be working with Fox and the conference to continue the relationship that extends for 30 years," said CBS Sports president Dave Berson in an interview. "And being able to televise games during the conference’s inaugural season under its new format really strengthens CBS Sports Network’s basketball schedule."

With action from the Mountain West Conference, Conference USA, the Patriots League, Atlantic 10, American Athletic Conference and now the Big East, Berson said CBS Sports Network’s hoops schedule will push past 200 contests in the 2013-14 season.

”The Big East addition is a great component to CBS Sports Network’s strongest college basketball schedule ever,” he said.

CBS Sports’ two Big East basketball games during the upcoming season are Butler at Georgetown on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 1 p.m. (ET) and Marquette at Villanova on Sunday, March 2 at 2 p.m.

CBS Sports Network’s schedule includes: Villanova at Seton Hall on Jan. 8; Georgetown at Xavier on Jan. 15; Marquette at Butler on Jan. 18; Seton Hall at St. John’s on Jan. 23; and Georgetown at Seton Hall on Feb. 20.

As part of the deal, Berson said CBS Sports Network will also add a pair of women's basketball games per season, as well as up to 10 Olympic sports events.

CBS Sports Network on Aug. 20 reached a seven-year pact with ESPN under which it will air 25 AAC hoops contests during the 2013-14 school year and 30 per season through the 2019-20 school year. The service also will telecast a minimum of 13, and maximum of 15 football games, starting with the 2014 campaign.

Last month, CBS, through a multiyear deal, also acquired the rights to the Mountain West Conference's inaugural football championship game, kicking off on Dec. 7 at 10 p.m. (ET). The contest will air the same day as the SEC Championship, which begins at 4 p.m. CBS Sports Network is the Mountain West’s primary television partner and is scheduled to carry 23 regular-season games this fall. All told, the cable network is scheduled to air 51 college football contests from the Mountain West, Conference USA and the service academies.

The cable network, which improved its channel position on DirecTV to 221 from 613 on Aug. 21, was also part of CBS’s recent retransmission-consent renewal with Verizon’s FiOS TV and will gain wider distribution on the telco’s video service as a result.

Similarly, CBS Sports Network will add subs down the road on Time Warner Cable systems, through the No. 2 MSO's Labor Day deal with CBS. That agreement ended the parties' month-long disconnect over the value of retransmission-consent fees and digital rights.

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