Sun Belt And ESPN Announce New Agreement Together

March 14, 2009 · By · Filed Under News 

Back in February the Sun Belt Conference and ESPN announced a new agreement that extends their relationship through the 2011-2012 academic year. It will take affect at the beginning of the 2009-2010 academic year and will expand the conference’s national television exposure to new heights.

Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters said, “The Sun Belt Conference’s negotiation with ESPN, Inc. is one of the most significant events in the conference’s 33 year history. There have been many great steps taken in the history of this league including the Sun Belt becoming a member of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and the Bowl Championship Series.  I firmly believe that this new deal and our partnership with ESPN, Inc. is another important step for the success of the Sun Belt Conference.”

ESPN will remain the exclusive national television home for the Sun Belt Conference and the new agreement will give the Sun Belt’s rising football league a minimum of two games on either ESPN or ESPN2. Additionally, ESPN regional television will have the right to produce, distribute and syndicate up to five football games each year. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, the 24 hour college sports network, will also be granted additional opportunities to select games to air.

The three networks will be granted a 12 day rolling window during the season to select additional games to televise. Games available for selection are after the third Saturday of the season.

SBC teams have made quite an impression with thier appearances on the ESPN family network. Troy defeated Big 12 powers Missouri and Oklahoma State in nationally televised contests in addition to the 2006 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl that was also nationally televised. Florida Atlantic became the first SBC team to win bowl games in back-to-back years when they won the 2007 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the 2008 Motor City Bowl, both ESPN nationally televised contests.

ESPN and the SBC have a long partnership in men’s basketball as well. They televised the conferences men’s championship for the 29th consecutive season recently. This is its longest affiliation with any conference in the country.

Not only will this new agreement conintue to air the SBC championship game but will also create additional appearances for the league’s men’s programs. They will not make a minimum of four appearances annually on ESPN or ESPN2. They also maintain the right to produce, distribute and syndicate up to eight men’s games annually.

The women’s basketball is the most successful sports in the SBC and will benefit greatly from the new deal. SBC teams will make a minimum of two appearances annually on ESPNU, which marks the first time that the women’s basketball is guaranteed national exposure on an ESPN network. ESPNU will televise either the league’s women’s basketball championship or up to two regualr season games.

The Breakdown:

  • Football – Guaranteed national exposure on ESPN or ESPN2 with a minimum of 2 Sun Belt controlled games a year. Upon request the SBC will make available two midweek games to ESPN/ESPN2. Through a 12 day rolling window (i.e., by the second Monday preceding each Saturday telecast date) ESPN may select additional games to air after the first three weeks of the season for inclusion on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.
  • Men’s Basketball – 25% increase in guaranteed annual exposure on ESPN and ESPN2. Continued relationship with ESPN for championship week and will continue to air the championship game on ESPN or ESPN2.
  • Women’s Basketball – Is guaranteed national exposure for the first time on ESPNU. ESPNU will air either the women’s championship game or at a minimum one women’s regular season game.
  • Olympic Sports – Will retain first selection rights on all other sports.
  • Syndication – ESPN Regional Television retains the rights to produce, syndicate and distribute up to eight men’s basketball games a year. ESPN Regional Television retains the right to produce, syndicate and distribute up to five football games a year.

Way to go Sun Belt!

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