Big East Nears Deals With NBC, CBS; Conference Name Likely To Stay
The Big East “plans to start rebuilding its brand this month with two new TV deals, albeit at a much lower value than the conference had hoped when it started negotiations more than a year ago,” according to Ourand & Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The Big East is “close to finalizing deals with two partners, NBC and CBS, that will give the conference exposure across multiple networks.” The NBC agreement will “put football and basketball games primarily on its cable channel, NBC Sports Network, with the ability to move some games to the NBC broadcast network.” CBS also is “close to renewing its package of basketball games for its broadcast channel.” NBC will pay close to $25M annually over six years “for a bucket of games to go on NBC and NBC Sports Network.” Sources said that CBS’ contract will pay $2-4M per year “for its package of basketball rights.” Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said that the conference is “unlikely to cede the Big East name to the Catholic schools that are breaking away.” Aresco said, “We’re talking to them. Our strong inclination is to keep the name.” Aresco said that “solidifying the conference’s media rights is a crucial first step toward rebuilding the Big East brand.” Aresco: “We’re trying to be realistic. We’re not the Big East of even several months ago.” Aresco added, “We know we have to prove ourselves on the field. We can’t argue that we’re the Big East of the past. We have to accept that and move on” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/18 issue). Sources said that ESPN has "until Thursday" to match NBC Sports Network's seven-year, $20-23M per year offer for the Big East's media rights (ESPN.com, 2/15).