ESPN and the Southeastern Conference have a new television deal and it will boost the league with football in addition to select men’s basketball games being carried on ABC.
That adds a ton of additional households to the television metrics, which is a key number in advertising sales and revenue to the league, which is then distributed across the SEC, including Arkansas.
Key details in new agreement
• Adds 15 premier football games, eight marquee men’s basketball games ensuring every football and men’s basketball game airs on an ESPN channel.
• SEC Football Championship Game on ABC each year.
• A regular SEC football game on ABC in the late afternoon window and SEC games to be part of ABC’s Saturday Night Football.
• Select SEC non-conference matchups available on ESPN+.
• Solidifies ESPN as exclusive media rights holder for all SEC sports.
• New agreement further strengthens ESPN’s industry-leading college rights portfolio.
Top rivalries like Alabama vs. Auburn and Florida vs. Georgia in addition to approximately eight marquee men’s basketball matchups each year across ESPN or ABC.
With the new deal, every SEC football and men’s basketball game will now be carried on an ESPN network, including ABC, solidifying ESPN as the exclusive rights holder of the SEC and resulting in enhanced programming flexibility across both sports.
The new agreement will be co-terminus with the separate, existing 20-year agreement between ESPN and the SEC that also runs through 2033-34 and sees ESPN carry more than 1,950 SEC games each year across the conference’s 21 sports on ESPN networks and SEC Network.
SEC on ABC Football Games is hallmark of new agreement
ABC will air an SEC-controlled football game each week beginning in 2024, including a regular late-afternoon kickoff.
In addition, ESPN will have the ability to feature marquee SEC games on ABC’s Saturday Night Football for the first time, ensuring some of the biggest games in the conference each year are featured in primetime.
Scheduling flexibility with conference’s top matchups
With ABC added to the arsenal of SEC football outlets, along with ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and SEC Network, ESPN will maximize the SEC’s exposure and reach while simultaneously serving the fans and conference member schools.
As a pillar of this strategy, the conference’s top matchup each week will no longer be locked into the late afternoon window and instead, ESPN will have flexibility to position such games in the window and on the network that best maximizes exposure.
SEC Football Championship on ABC
The entirety of the conference’s regular season will build up to the SEC Football Championship, which will now air on ABC in the late afternoon each season.
The week prior to the SEC Football Championship, ESPN or ABC will feature an annual late afternoon Thanksgiving Friday SEC game.
ESPN+ adds rights to SEC non-conference games beginning in 2021-22 season
An element of the rights deal that will begin next season, ESPN+ will have the right to stream one non-conference football game and two non-conference men’s basketball games per SEC school each season.
In total, ESPN+ will carry up to 14 non-conference football games and up to 20 non-conference men’s basketball games annually.
“This new agreement was born from a strong foundation which began almost 25 years ago and now reflects a shared vision of the future with the SEC, Commissioner Sankey and their member institutions” said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “With all the conference’s games under the ESPN umbrella and adding ABC and ESPN+ to our distribution channels, ESPN will have complete scheduling flexibility, resulting in maximum exposure and adding significant benefits for SEC schools and fans.”
“This is a significant day for the Southeastern Conference and for the future of our member institutions. Our agreement with ESPN will greatly enhance our ability to support our student-athletes in the years ahead and to further enrich the game day experience for SEC fans around the world,” said SEC commissioner Greg Sankey. “One of our primary goals was to improve the television scheduling process in ways that will benefit our students, coaches, alumni and fans,” Sankey added. “By working in collaboration with ESPN, we were able to secure an agreement that includes more lead time for many game time announcements, and in many ways modernizes the college football scheduling process.”
SEC men’s basketball now exclusively on ESPN
With the addition of approximately eight high-profile games per year, starting in the 2024-25 season, every SEC men’s basketball game will air across ESPN networks, including the right to put SEC basketball games on ABC.
Information from ESPN is included in this story.