Sun Belt secures long-term multimedia contract with ESPN

Sun Belt Conference

The Sun Belt Conference and ESPN announced an enhancement to the current contract with one another that will have extensive changes on Thursday. 

The relationship between the entities will extend through the 2027-28 academic years with ESPN gaining exclusive rights for the distribution of all Sun Belt sports with exposure on ESPN’s linear and digital platforms. 

“The continuation of our agreement with ESPN marks one of the most historic announcements since the Sun Belt’s founding in 1976,” said Sun Belt conference commissioner Karl Benson in a statement. “This is truly an ‘all in’ collaboration with ESPN, the Sun Belt, and our member institutions and the volume and accessibility of our games will have a profound impact on the future of the Sun Belt. We have enjoyed a long relationship with ESPN since its founding in 1979 and we look forward to being featured on its newest platform, ESPN+, which promises to revolutionize how audiences view content.”

Enhancements to the current agreement between ESPN and the Sun Belt will include an inaugural Sun Belt Football Championship Game that will be played on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. This also includes future championship games on one of the three televised networks.

There is now a guarantee that all Sun Belt home football games will be accessible on an ESPN platform for the seventh straight year in 2018. An increase of men’s and women’s basketball games on ESPN platforms has been obtained along with a minimum of 100 games in 2018-19. That number is set to jump to 150 games during the 2019-20 season.

By 2020-21, a minimum of 500 events a year will be broadcast on an ESPN platform. A minimum of 10 football games a year will air on a combination of ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Also, every Sun Belt Championship event will be on an ESPN platform for every academic year.

“On behalf of all Sun Belt Conference Presidents and Chancellors, I welcome the continued relationship between the Sun Belt and ESPN,” said Sun Belt Conference and Georgia State University president Dr. Mark Becker in a statement. “The exposure our institutions receive is a tremendous value to all of our athletics programs and it serves to strengthen them and the conference as a whole.”

ESPN will continue to air the Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball championship game as well. This will maintain the longest running relationship in all college athletics. The Sun Belt is the only conference whose men’s basketball championship has been shown live every year since ESPN launched. 

The women’s basketball championship game will also be available on one of ESPN’s linear networks.

These announcements come shortly after the introduction of ESPN+ which will be launched in the Spring of 2018. ESPN+ will be the first-ever multisport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service. For just $4.99 a month, subscribers will receive thousands of additional live events, on-demand content and original programming not available on ESPN’s linear television or digital networks.

“ESPN has a long, mutually beneficial relationship with the Sun Belt, dating back to our foundational years,” said ESPN executive vice president of scheduling and acquisitions Burke Magnus in a statement. “We are thrilled to take that relationship to a new level via this new, innovative and exclusive extension, while also deepening our commitment to serving college sports fans. More Sun Belt events and content than ever before will now be available to fans however they choose to consume them in a more personalized and targeted manner.”

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