SBD/March 1, 2011/Media

ESPN Reportedly Angered By Conference USA's New TV Deal With Fox

C-USA games will continue to be shown on CBS Sports Network through '16
Conference USA signed a $43M media rights deal with Fox in January, but current rights holders ESPN is “questioning C-USA’s new deal,” according to Ourand & Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. ESPN believes its contract with C-USA “gave it the right to match any offer.” ESPN execs said that they “had an oral agreement on a new deal with the conference and were working to finalize it when the Fox deal was announced.” But C-USA Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs Courtney Morrison-Archer in an e-mail said, “ESPN had every opportunity to step up and address our concerns. Following a long and protracted discussion, the conference board of directors voted to move in a different direction.” Ourand & Smith report relations between the conference and ESPN “have become so strained that the network threatened legal action" against C-USA. Meanwhile, sources said that CBS Sports Network, which has its own separate agreement with C-USA through ‘16, believes “it had the first crack at the package if it ever left ESPN.” CBS Sports Network “has not threatened legal action” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/28 issue). Sources said C-USA and CBS Sports Network the two sides remained cordial during an on-going dialogue about any modifications that need to be made to its contract (THE DAILY). Morrison-Archer said that C-USA expects its television deals with Fox and CBS Sports Network "to proceed as planned with the start of the 2011 football season” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/1).
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