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AAC Agrees to 12-Year Media Rights Deal With ESPN

The new deal will give out more money per year but may make it more difficult to watch UConn games.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The American Athletic Conference and ESPN have agreed to a 12-year, $1 billion media rights deal beginning in the 2020-21 season, according to Sports Business Journal. The deal will pay each school $6.94 million annually, which is about $5 million more than they were making under the previous deal. There will be no Grant of Rights, which means schools can leave for other conferences without sacrificing its media rights.

ESPN will have the rights to all live games from the AAC with the exception of a handful of basketball games on CBS and a few Saturday football games on ABC. The downside is that while football and basketball will continue to air on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, “the majority of basketball games and about half of the football games will go to ESPN+”, which is an online subscription service.

Baseball, soccer and softball games will be shown on ESPN+ as well.

However, it is still not clear how this all affects UConn. Unlike most schools in the conference, UConn has tier three rights with SNY, meaning the network can broadcast games that ESPN and CBSSports Network both pass on. This could potentially prevent UConn games from going behind the paywall at ESPN+, though it is still uncertain.

There could also be stipulations added for UConn specifically to get them to agree to the deal. There is still a lot of information that is unknown at this time.