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AAC, ESPN Agree to 12-year Media-rights Extension
Updated: March 27, 2019 -- 12:55 p.m.CDT
Posted: March 27, 2019 -- 11:55 a.m. CDT
American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco and ESPN Executive Vice President of Programming and Scheduling Burke Magnus have announced that The American and ESPN have reached agreement on a 12-year media rights extension beginning in 2020-21. ESPN has been the Conference's principal media rights holder for football, men's and women's basketball and Olympic sports since the league's reconstitution in 2013-14. Financial terms of the contract, which will run through 2031-32, were not disclosed. However, according to the Michael Smith and John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, the deal is reportedly worth $1B.
With the new agreement, The American will have a stronger and more extensive presence on ESPN’s primary TV networks – ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. More than 135 conference-controlled games will air annually on the networks, and more than 1,650 events will be telecast throughout the duration of the contract. Among the annual events, the football championship game, all rounds of the men's basketball championship, and multiple rounds of the women's basketball championship, will be on ESPN TV networks.
The Conference will also be a valuable part of ESPN+, ESPN’s industry-leading direct-to-consumer sports streaming service. At least 1,000 American events will be featured on the platform beginning in 2022-23 and in each subsequent year of the contract. In the first two years, 1,250 events (500 in 2020-21 and 750 in 2021-22) will be distributed on ESPN+.
"I am thrilled with our conference's multi-year contract extension with ESPN," Aresco said. "ESPN is unquestionably the best media company with which to partner, not only in television but in overall distribution capabilities and reputation. ESPN’s multiple linear platforms, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, will provide unprecedented exposure for our conference and will assure our continued growth and national impact. We are also delighted to be a major part of ESPN+, a fast-growing and innovative digital platform which will make more of our games, and more of our sports, available to more fans than ever before.
I want to thank ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro and Senior Executive Burke Magnus for their roles in this landmark negotiation and agreement, and for their support of our conference and their vision for ESPN."
Magnus added: "This long-term, multifaceted agreement with The American allows us to build upon our existing relationship and deliver a comprehensive, end-to-end exposure solution to the conference for all their content." "On our television networks, The American will continue to be a significant and consistent component of our industry-leading college sports portfolio. The thousands of events from the conference we plan to showcase on ESPN+ will add to a robust programming lineup that includes a vast array of other college sports events, UFC, MLB, NHL, Top Rank Boxing, first-tier soccer from around the world, plus high-quality original content and on-demand offerings. We are thrilled to showcase the conference across our platforms and thank American Commissioner Mike Aresco and its member institutions for the collaborative effort to further enhance its brand’s national exposure."
A breakdown of the Conference games that will air across ESPN’s linear networks throughout the duration of the contract are as follows:
New to ESPN’s TV rights beginning in 2020-21 are all Navy-controlled football games versus Notre Dame, plus first pick of the remaining Navy-controlled football games each year (excluding any games versus Army and Air Force). Beyond select Navy football games and select men's basketball games, all conference controlled football and men's basketball games from The American will air on an ESPN network or ESPN+. All women's basketball controlled games will also be carried across ESPN’s platforms.
As part of the agreement, all ESPN+ events will be produced and branded as the American Digital Network, and accessible to fans of the Conference alongside live streamed events from ESPN networks and other related video in an American-branded landing page on the ESPN App, providing a one-stop destination for fans to view conference events. The content will also be served to fans who select American member schools among their favorites in the ESPN App. ESPN also is committed to enhancing The American's brand during all of its TV Network telecasts.
American content will be available as part of any ESPN+ subscription. Fans can subscribe at www.espnplus.com.
The American and ESPN will operate under the terms of the existing agreement for the 2019-20 season.
"Our schools are committed to our Power 6 campaign and to providing our student-athletes with the highest level of competition." Aresco added. “This agreement furthers these goals and allows us to continue our mutually-beneficial relationship with our valued media partner.
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