ESPN, Big East Make Multiplatform Rights Deal Official

Multiplatform Pact Extends through 2019-20 School Year

After reaching a renewal agreement last month, ESPN and the soon-to-be-rechristened Big East Conference officially announced their multiplatform, multiyear rights pact.

Following a bridge season for basketball during the 2013-14 academic year, the agreement begins in 2014-15 encompassing football, basketball, select conference-controlled women’s hoops, and other sports, including softball and baseball through 2019-20, excluding CBS’s basketball rights. Financial terms were not disclosed, but published reports peg the pact’s value at some $130 million.

During a press call announcing the pact, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming Burke Magnus said the deal allows for limited sub-licensing to national broadcast networks and regional sports networks. Magnus said anticipates that there will be “national broadcast interest,” but the “lion’s share” will be on ESPN national platforms or digital distribution. He anticipates that some games will be available for RSN sublicensing.

Big East conference commissioner Mike Aresco said on the call that a new conference name, discussions for which involves a broad group including the academic institutions, their presidents, "key constituents and partners," could be revealed in April or early May. More immediately, the conference expects to have more rights news. “We do anticipate an announcing a [broadcast] network deal next week,” which he said would dovetail with ESPN. Although he noted that CBS is a long-time conference partner, he did not identify the networks engaged in discussions.

Under the pact, conference games will be available across ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN3, as well as mobile and digital via the WatchESPN authenticated service.

For its part, Fox Sports will hold a press conference in New York tomorrow to announce its media deal with the “new” Big East Conference, which is being stocked by the so-called “Catholic 7” basketball schools – Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette and Depaul. The conference, which will continue to play its men's basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden, will tip off play with the upcoming school year.