ESPN To Keep Big East TV Rights For Around $20M Per Year After Matching NBC's Offer
ESPN has agreed to match NBC's offer for the Big East, agreeing to pay more than $20M per year for a six-year package, according to several well-placed sources. The two sides still are trying to work out various details about how many games ESPN will carry and where they will air. Sources said the Big East will have to take ESPN's offer to conference presidents, who will have to vote to approve the deal. No formal announcement is expected Friday. ESPN released a statement on Thursday afternoon saying, "Discussions with the Big East are ongoing." The conference also acknowledged that discussions are continuing. NBC late last week agreed to a deal that would put Big East football and basketball games primarily on NBC Sports Network, with the ability to move some games to NBC's broadcast network. ESPN had to decide whether to match that deal by Thursday. It matched the rights fee but is not likely to put any games on its broadcast channel, ABC. Sources say ESPN is likely to sublicense a significant amount of games to other networks, such as Fox Sports, which is launching Fox Sports 1 this summer (John Ourand, Staff Writer). ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy reported the deal is for a total of $130M over seven years. Sources said that would include a $10M payment for the '13-14 basketball season, and $20M "starting in 2014-15 for football and men's basketball." The sources added that the deal includes ESPN "annually broadcasting 65 football games, 150-plus basketball games, a conference football championship game and the Big East men's basketball tournament on ESPN's family of networks." Meanwhile, sources confirmed that CBS will "extend it's men's basketball rights" with the conference for about $2M annually (ESPN.com, 2/21).