Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A few notes on new American Athletic Conference rights agreement

A quick comparison of the number of games each season vs. the new minimums announced in the new 12 year agreement with ESPN.


The conference championship game is not counted in this table below.

So the new minimum of 40 games across the four primary networks is more than each of the previous five seasons.  The even numbered seasons also had games where Navy "hosted" Notre Dame, so you could add one more to each year, then take one more Navy home game to each season started with 2015 (2014 didn't have Navy nor a conference championship game) to get a more true apples to apples comparison.

With that said, if you add in the CBS Sports Network games of around 14 games per season, you'll likely get close to the planned minimum in at least 2015 & 2016.  2017 & 2018 would be well above the minimum.  In my opinion, this is where the American would be taking advantage of some ACC content moving over to the new ACC Network.

Men's Basketball

The conference tournament games are not counted in this table below.

The first thing I would caution is that the 2018-19 season had one more week available for games to be played compared to the other four years.  Also, Wichita St. joined for the 2017-18 athletic year, which gave the conference more available games for television.

CBS Sports Network received 30 games per season via sublicense.  The minimum increasing will help out a little, but ESPN+ is more likely to be the platform receiving the bump in content as I don't see those 30 games being added to both ESPNU and ESPNEWS.

Networks in use

ESPN+ was added as a platform, but ESPNEWS, ESPN3 and CBS Sports Network were not mentioned.  I get the feeling from the language of the release that CBS Sports Network could be out, though it is not confirmed by anyone with knowledge of any of the agreements.  ESPN3 and ESPNEWS weren't mentioned either with the exception of the "About ESPN" section, so I don't know the status of using those two linear TV channels.  If anything, one could make a reasonable leap that the ESPNEWS content could be what ends up adding to the new contract minimums, and the content that was on ESPN3, CBSSN and some schools' streaming packages become the ESPN+ package.  ESPNEWS carried six football games in 2018 and 15 men's basketball games in the 2018-19 regular season.

I should also mention that ESPN allows conferences like the Ivy League, SoCon and others to regionally televise ESPN+ games, unless schools were counseled not to sign new regional television deals, such as the deal UConn has with SNY.

EDIT: A transcript of the media call announcing the agreement has details that sublicensing could continue and that ESPN would need to sit down with relevant parties to gauge their interest in continuing these arrangements.


Anonymous said...

Re: sublease possibilities still open

Matt Sarzyniak said...

Thanks. Was just told the same thing with knowledge of deals.

Anonymous said...

Securing a billion dollar contract is huge for the AAC. Shows that their bet on themselves with the exposure deal in 2013 worked. They built an audience and capitalized.