Mar 12, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey speaks on the cancelation of the SEC tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

SEC, ESPN reach 10-year deal for football, basketball rights

The Southeastern Conference and ESPN agreed on a 10-year deal beginning in 2024 that will make the network the exclusive rights holder of the league’s football and men’s basketball games, the two sides announced Thursday.

Though terms were not disclosed, ESPN’s annual fee is expected to be in the low $300 million range, according to multiple media reports. The SEC currently received $55 million from CBS as part of a deal that was made in 1996. The SEC-CBS contract runs through the 2023 season.

ESPN’s family of networks, including ABC, will gain up to 15 premier football games, highlighted by the SEC title game and big rivalries such as Georgia-Florida, Alabama-Auburn and LSU-Arkansas.

“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 (Greg) Sankey and their member institutions,” Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and sports content, said in a statement. “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 and fans.”

ABC will broadcast an SEC game every Saturday, including a regular late-afternoon kickoff, and will have the option to feature an SEC game on Saturday nights for the first time.

ABC also will air the SEC title game in the late afternoon, and ABC or ESPN will air a late-afternoon SEC game on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement, “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.

“One of our primary goals was to improve the television-scheduling process in ways that will benefit our students, coaches, alumni and fans. By working in collaboration with ESPN, we were able to secure an agreement that includes more lead time for many game-time announcements, and in many ways modernizes the college football scheduling process.”

The deal also allows the SEC to announce kickoff times much earlier, even during the summer.

ESPN+ is guaranteed to stream one nonconference football game and two nonconference men’s basketball games per SEC school each season.

–Field Level Media