Earlier today, ESPN and the American Athletic Conference announced a 12-year extension to their current TV deal, which is rumored to be worth roughly $1 billion. As part of this extension, a good chunk of the AAC’s content will move to ESPN+, the network’s streaming service, when the new deal takes effect for the 2020-21 academic year.
While many AAC games will move to ESPN+, football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball will still have a select amount of games on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Those amounts are:
- At least 40 games per season for football, including a minimum of 20 on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
- At least 65 games per season for men’s basketball, including a minimum of 25 on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
- At least 13 games per season for women’s, including a minimum of five on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
After this, more games are parsed out to other networks. Some men’s basketball games may continue to be broadcast by CBS Sports, and Navy football still has their own TV deal for select games.
Shortly after the announcement, the Hartford Courant’s Mike Anthony reached out to the university for a comment on the new deal, and the response was surprising.
Instead of praising the deal and the growth of the American, UConn chose to go in a very different direction, stating that the deal has “certain exclusive components which we believe are not in the best interest of our fan base or representative if maintaining and building our brand.”
UConn statement... pic.twitter.com/aiJfz2Tqan— Mike Anthony (@ManthonyCourant) March 27, 2019
UConn has publicly been extremely positive about the conference since its inception, but given the news about the deal and the athletic department’s financial state, maybe they believe a heel turn was necessary. This deal has been a divisive issue within the UConn and AAC community, and it’s rare that we see the university take a stance that’s negative different from its peers.
On the bright side, UConn did express some serious interest in continuing its basketball package with SNY. While it seems like these discussions are still forthcoming, it’s good to see that UConn is fighting to maintain a strong presence in New York City.
“We see tremendous value in our relationship with SNY as it provides a great platform for the UConn athletics brand and helps us garner a significant amount of exposure in the nation’s No. 1 television market,” UConn said in the statement.
Anthony also got a direct response from athletic director David Benedict.
UConn athletic director David Benedict had this to say on the AAC/ESPN deal announced today... pic.twitter.com/oAKBPxUtm9— Mike Anthony (@ManthonyCourant) March 27, 2019