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Volume 25 No. 236
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AAC, ESPN Agree To 12-Year Media-Rights Deal Worth $1B

The American Athletic Conference will get $1B for its media rights from ESPN over 12 years, according to sources. The average of $83.3M per year is about four times what the AAC was making in its previous rights agreement with the net, which paid the league just over $20M annually. The new agreement begins in '20-21 and runs through the '31-32 academic year.

The annual per-school average of $6.94M provides each AAC school with nearly $5M more in annual revenue. They did not sign a grant of rights, which would have restricted them from jumping to a conference in the Power Five. SBJ reported in December that the AAC was considering a grant-of-rights, which effectively turns over a school’s media rights to the conference.

The comprehensive deal provides ESPN with rights to all of the AAC’s live programming, except for a small package of basketball games on CBS and some Navy football games on CBS Sports Network. The new contract also calls for some Saturday football games to be broadcast on ABC. Football, along with men's and women's basketball, will remain on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, but the majority of basketball games and a significant number of the football games will go to ESPN+. Other live sports including baseball, softball and soccer also will air on ESPN+. Renewal talks with CBS have not begun.