When UConn dumped the AAC to join the Big East, it left UConn football in a dicey situation as a newly independent program. Athletic director David Benedict has moved quickly to build a strong 2020 schedule, especially given the time constraints, and has plenty of strong matchups on the schedule in future years. But UConn could create a schedule full of College Football Playoff perennials and it wouldn’t mean a thing if they couldn’t get on TV.
Now, the school has a television contract for those games. The long-awaited news came on Monday, when UConn announced a deal with CBS Sports Network which will broadcast four home games in 2020 and every home game after that through 2023. The rest of the 2020 home games are expected to be televised on SNY.
“CBS Sports is a tremendous brand for our football program to be associated with and I know UConn Nation will be pleased that it will be able to watch the Huskies compete against a compelling group of opponents on a nationally-distributed network,” Benedict said in a release.
“Adding UConn football to our already robust lineup of partners provides more high-quality football content for CBS Sports Network,” said Dan Weinberg the Executive Vice President of Programming at CBS Sports. “We look forward to a long and successful relationship with UConn in the years ahead.”
Home games against Indiana on September 26, Liberty on October 31, Middle Tennessee State on November 11 and Army on November 28.
The specific financials of the agreement have yet to be released, but UConn will see savings in one key area: production costs. Under the old AAC deal that had a role in driving UConn out of the conference, schools were responsible for productions costs on anything going onto ESPN-plus. Under this deal, the network will cover them.
UPDATE: Sports Business Journal reports that CBSSN could pay up to $100,000 per game, depending on the quality of the opponent. SBJ estimated that UConn could make around $500,000 per year, which would put the deal in the range of four years, $2 million.
For comparison, of the other six independent FBS football programs, only three others are on linear television. Notre Dame is partnered with NBC, BYU with ESPN and Army with CBS Sports as well. UMass and New Mexico State both have deals with FloSports while Liberty has an agreement with ESPN+.
With a strong scheduling base in place along with the television deal, the biggest remaining item on the to-do list for UConn football’s dive into independence is bowl tie-ins. That will allow the Huskies to make a bowl game if they can ever get back to six wins in a season. Considering Benedict and UConn have already pulled together a full schedule and strong TV deal, it seems likely they should be able to make this last piece fall into place.