Tue. Apr 23rd, 2019

ESPN Signs $1 Billion Rights Deal With AAC

“The bulk of the conference’s schedule though will go to ESPN+.”

The members of the American Athletic Conference just got a whole lot richer. The conference just signed a 12 year deal with ESPN that will see each member’s pay out quadruple from the previous contract according to John Ourand of The Sports Business Journal.

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.

John Ourand, Sports Business Journal

The AAC has billed itself as a “Power 6 conference,” meaning it isn’t one of the Power 5 (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC), but on a higher plane than the other smaller conferences in college football. This deal seems to reflect that ESPN agrees with that position. Certainly the recent success of schools like Central Florida and Houston have helped solidify that position.

As part of the deal, the AAC will continue to run some football games on ESPN and ABC. Select basketball games will still be shown on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN. The bulk of the conference’s schedule though will go to ESPN+. The streaming service will also carry AAC baseball, softball, and volleyball.

ESPN isn’t the conference’s only media partner. It also has a deal with CBS Sports Network. Connecticut also has a third tier rights deal with SNY. There is no information on how the ESPN+ aspect of the new deal could effect those relationships.