MAC's New 13-Year TV Deal With ESPN Will Aid Schools In Wake Of Autonomy Ruling
The Mid-American Conference and ESPN yesterday announced "a 13-year television and digital media contract," with sources saying that it is worth more than $100M and "will pay each of the 12 member universities about $670,000 per school year" through '26-27, according to Mark Znidar of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher and ESPN Senior VP/Programming Acquisitions Burke Magnus said that 10 years "have been added to the remaining three years of the contract," which gives ESPN "exclusive rights to all MAC sporting events." The previous contract was worth $1.4M a year. The new contract "will be worth about" $8M a year. ESPN3 streaming capability will "be embedded on MACsports.com, and every member school’s website." Steinbrecher said that he "expects a three- to four-year process for member schools to purchase and install streaming equipment." ESPN will "aid the schools in the startup, but the universities will pay for the majority of the equipment." When every university is up and running with digital streaming equipment, Magnus said that a "minimum of 420 MAC sporting events per year will be seen" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/20). In Akron, George Thomas notes ESPN will "continue to air games Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and broadcast Tuesday and Wednesday prime-time games, which have become a staple for the network as the MACtion brand expanded." But more importantly, the "additional revenue -- around nine figures over the course of the 13-year pact -- will enable the MAC to deal with issues that are revealing themselves in the wake of the top five conferences voting for autonomy" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/20). In Cleveland, Elton Alexander noted it is "understood, as the deal plays out, the ability to get regional providers to broadcast games will play a big part in that exposure" (CLEVELAND.com, 8/19).