The Big East's new television deal with ESPN shows that the ACC's blatant attempt to crush the league didn't work out exactly as planned. The league announced a sweeping new agreement with the worldwide leader in sports on Monday.
The BIG EAST Conference and ESPN have agreed to a pair of six-year contracts that will significantly enhance the league's exposure in football, men's basketball, and women's basketball. The two parties made the joint announcement at the ESPN Zone in New York City.
The deal for football runs through the 2013 regular season. The current football contract still has two years remaining. The agreement for men's and women's basketball runs through the 2012-13 season. The current pact for basketball has one year remaining.
"We have been together with ESPN from the start and we have both grown together," said BIG EAST Commissioner Michael Tranghese. "We're very excited to extend our relationship. Television exposure is critical to the success of our teams. Our new agreement provides an incredible opportunity to take BIG EAST programs to even greater heights."
"As a mainstay on ESPN for nearly three decades, the BIG EAST has delivered many memorable moments," said George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports. "We are thrilled to expand that long-standing relationship through this unprecedented collaborative effort, which will supply conference action to fans however they experience sports."
The BIG EAST and ESPN have always had a strong relationship. Both entities were born in 1979. When men's college basketball was starting to explode in terms of television exposure in the early eighties, the BIG EAST and ESPN were at the forefront. The BIG EAST has always been a fixture in ESPN's Big Monday format, which was the first regular weekly college basketball package on cable television.
When the BIG EAST began competing in football in 1991, the league and ESPN entered into a partnership that has never been interrupted. ESPN is the only network to telecast BIG EAST football in every year since '91.
Some of the highlights of the new agreement include:
ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will carry a total of 17 games each season, the highest guaranteed total for ESPN and ABC in the history of the conference.
On Championship Saturday in December, one game will appear on ABC or ESPN with a second game shown on ESPN2.
There will be four BIG EAST games featured on ESPN's Thursday night package. At least one game will be part of ESPN's Saturday Prime Time series.
The BIG EAST will provide two games for ESPN on Sunday nights.
ESPN Regional will continue to produce and distribute its Game of the Week package that is syndicated throughout BIG EAST markets and beyond. The nation's largest college football regional network, ESPN Regional's BIG EAST package reaches more than 30 million homes. Most of these games are also offered as part of the ESPN GamePlan pay subscription service.
ESPNU will carry a minimum of five home games.
ESPN and ESPN2 will telecast a minimum of 60 games each year, which includes 49 regular season and all 11 games of The BIG EAST Championship Presented by Aeropostale. The 49 regular season contests include 41 conference contests and eight non-conference home games.
The BIG EAST has always enjoyed tremendous exposure on ESPN and its family of networks. The new deal brings even more. ESPN, Inc. will produce 139 of the 144 regular season conference games. The five remaining games will be carried by CBS.
ESPN Regional will carry 66 games and continue its weekend Game of the Week package which reaches approximately 30 percent of the nation's homes and has a total household reach of more than 30 million. Most games offered by ESPN Regional are also available nationally as part of ESPN Full Court, the pay subscription college basketball outer-market service.
ESPNU or ESPN 360, the network's customized broadband service, will carry 30 games.
ESPN or ESPN Regional also will produce a minimum of 22 non-conference home games.
The BIG EAST will continue its regular appearances on ESPN's Big Monday.
The BIG EAST Championship Presented by Aeropostale remains the only conference basketball postseason tournament to have every game televised nationally. Last March, the BIG EAST title game between Syracuse and Pittsburgh had a 2.58 rating, the highest rated cable tournament final in 2006.
Over the past two seasons, the BIG EAST had its most appearances ever on ESPN. The new pact is even more expansive, guaranteeing the BIG EAST an average of 11 regular season appearances annually.
On ESPNU, the BIG EAST will have a minimum of 15 appearances each season. Included in those appearances will be six conference games and three home non-conference games or seven conference games and one non-conference home game.
The BIG EAST and ESPN Regional will clear an eight-week Game of the Week package each Saturday in a consistent time slot. The BIG EAST will be the only conference in the country with a weekend Game of the Week package.
The title game of The BIG EAST Championship Presented by Aeropostale will continue to be carried on ESPN or ESPN2. The semifinals will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. This past year, ESPNU telecast the semifinals. ESPNU has the exclusive right to televise all additional tournament games. If ESPNU does not exercise its right, the remaining games can be carried by ESPN Regional as an extension of the Game of the Week package.