Today, it was announced that the SEC and ESPN have finalized a milestone 10-year agreement that grants ABC and ESPN exclusive broadcast rights to premier SEC football and basketball events beginning in 2024-25 and continuing through 2033-34.
While financial terms have not been disclosed yet, Sports Business Journal reported last year that the new deal is expected to pay more than six times(!!!) the $55 million per year fee that CBS currently pays, putting it in the $300 million+ range.
The new deal will establish ABC as the new broadcast network home for Saturday afternoon SEC football games, as well as selected Saturday primetime football games and the annual SEC Football Championship Game. In addition, eight men’s basketball games will be featured across ABC or ESPN.
The new First Tier rights agreement puts all SEC media rights under The Walt Disney Company umbrella, giving the SEC more exposure on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN+, SEC Network and SEC Network+. The exclusive partnership with ESPN comes with significant scheduling flexibility that will produce an array of benefits for member schools, student-athletes and college football fans.
“This is a significant day for the Southeastern Conference and for the future of our member institutions. Our agreement with ESPN will greatly enhance our ability to support our student-athletes in the years ahead and to further enrich the game day experience for SEC fans around the world,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “The broadcast industry’s intense and widespread interest in securing the SEC’s First Tier rights is a direct reflection of the sustained excellence achieved by our 14 member schools, and we are thrilled to have been able to maximize our current position of strength to benefit our student-athletes, the fans who go to our games and home viewers.”
The agreement includes a number of significant elements that will benefit student-athletes and fans alike:
- Regular SEC Football Game on ABC on Saturday Afternoons
- Additional football games on ABC Saturday Nights
- SEC Football Championship Game on ABC
- Introduction of a modernized, more fan-friendly scheduling process, with many game windows solidified earlier while providing flexibility to maximize the exposure of the Conference’s biggest games
- More marquee men’s basketball games on ABC or ESPN
- Additional non-conference men’s basketball games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2
- Beginning with the 2021-22 season, the right to place a limited number of non-conference football and men’s basketball games on ESPN+ that will allow schools autonomy to determine start times
“One of our primary goals was to improve the television scheduling process in ways that will benefit our students, coaches, alumni and fans,” Sankey added. “With all SEC events now under The Walt Disney Company umbrella, we were able to craft an agreement that includes more lead time for many game time announcements, and in many ways modernizes the college football scheduling process.”
“This new agreement was born from a strong foundation which began almost 25 years ago and now reflects a shared vision of the future with the SEC, Commissioner Sankey and their member institutions” said Pitaro. “With all the conference’s games under the ESPN umbrella and adding ABC and ESPN+ to our distribution channels, ESPN will have complete scheduling flexibility, resulting in maximum exposure and adding significant benefits for SEC schools, student-athletes and fans.”