Monday, August 25, 2008

Report: ESPN pays $2.25B for SEC rights

Some surprising news from Sports Business Journal:

"ESPN will pay the Southeastern Conference a staggering $2.25 billion over the next 15 years — about $150 million a year — for the conference’s TV rights, giving the network all of the SEC’s content that was not taken by CBS, industry sources confirm. The deal effectively ends any conversation of a conference network, and it knocks Raycom Sports (formerly Lincoln Financial and Jefferson Pilot) out of the SEC’s distribution business for the first time since 1986, when JP Sports began distributing SEC basketball.

"Combined with the 15-year, $55 million a year that the SEC will receive from CBS for the over-the-air package of games (Sports Business Journal, Aug. 18-24), the conference will bring in an average of $205 million annually in media rights beginning in 2009-10 and running through fiscal 2025. That’s nearly three times what the SEC had been receiving in TV revenue as part of its current deal, which runs out next spring. That amounted to around $70 million per year. SEC athletic directors met in Orlando last week to finalize the deal, which is expected to be announced later this week...ESPN’s syndication arm, ESPN Regional Television, will handle syndication to local broadcasters throughout the Southeast. It also will make regional cable packages available to cable channels, such as Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast and Fox RSNs."

For many years, millions watched the SEC through JP/Lincoln Financial/Raycom. Will any of Raycom's current broadcast affiliates continue to broadcast SEC games under the new deal? That question is yet to be answered, but this blockbuster deal, plus the pre-announced deal with CBS, will change the face of college sports broadcasting for years to come.


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