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SBD/Issue 215/Sports Media
Conference USA, CBS College Sports Extend Deal Through '16
Published July 23, 2010
Conference USA has extended its TV rights contract with CBS College Sports Network through June '16. The deal includes coverage of football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and the conference's 16 other sports. The net retains the rights to broadcast more live C-USA events than any other TV network. The deal also includes on-demand, Internet, broadband and wireless distribution rights, as well as the right to sublicense games to the net's affiliate partners. The original deal took effect in '05-06 (CBS). In West Virginia, Jack Bogaczyk cites sources as indicating that the conference in the deal will receive $7-7.5M annually through '16, "primarily for football and men's and women's basketball telecasts." The $7-7.5M figure is "pretty much the same dollars C-USA had gotten from the network in a backloaded contract that's ending." But Bogaczyk notes the previous deal with CBS College Sports was for six years and $45.8M, so a six-year, $42-45M deal is "anything but growth when Bowl Championship Series leagues are getting big bumps." Sources said that C-USA in the deal has "retained the ability to start its own digital network -- so perhaps the deal isn't quite as constraining as the previous contract, or as all-encompassing" (Charleston DAILY MAIL, 7/23).
ESPN NEXT? C-USA also has a TV rights deal with ESPN, and Univ. of Central Florida President John Hitt, the Chair of the conference's committee "overseeing television contract negotiations," said that the league has "had positive communication with ESPN and appears to be close to announcing a contract extension." Hitt: "I'm thinking in a matter of weeks, we'll probably hear something." In Orlando, Iliana Limon notes C-USA is the "only conference to have contracts with the competing ESPN and CBS College Sports networks." Hitt said that the new CBS College Sports agreement "provides conference schools with more control over third tier inventory not picked up by" ESPN and the net, which means schools will "potentially be able to make more money by controlling the broadcast rights to the games and any related marketing rights." Hitt added that C-USA leaders "briefly discussed the possibility of following in the footsteps of the Big Ten and Mountain West and creating its own network, but did not pursue it" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/23).