ESPN Inks NCAA Eight-Year Sports Rights Renewal Worth $920 Million



ESPN and the NCAA reached a new, eight-year sports rights agreement worth about $920 million over the term of the deal — more than four times the previous pact with the Disney-owned sports giant.

The new media-rights deal commences Sept. 1, 2024, for NCAA championship events. The pact includes domestic rights to a record 40 NCAA championships — 21 women’s and 19 men’s events — and international rights to those same NCAA championships plus the March Madness Division I men’s basketball tournament.

NCAA president Charlie Baker said the new ESPN deal has an average annual value of $115 million, an increase of more than 300% over the previous 14-year deal with ESPN, the AP reported.

The NCAA said that with “the significant increase in value of the new agreement,” its members will explore “revenue distribution units for the women’s basketball tournament.” According to the collegiate sports organization, the Division I board of directors finance committee “began discussion of revenue distribution philosophies and new models this year, and those discussions will continue with membership in the coming year.”

In total, more than 2,300 hours of NCAA championships will be presented on ESPN’s linear and digital platforms annually, including 800-plus hours of the collegiate championships on ESPN linear networks each year.

“ESPN and the NCAA have enjoyed a strong and collaborative relationship for more than four decades, and we are thrilled that it will continue as part of this new, long-term agreement,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “The ESPN networks and platforms will exclusively present a record number of championships, including all rounds of several marquee events that, together with the NCAA, we have grown over time. This unprecedented deal also further strengthens the Walt Disney Company’s industry-leading commitment to women’s sports and will help fuel our continued growth, including in the critical streaming space.”

Endeavor’s IMG and WME Sports served as the media advisor to the NCAA for the media rights negotiations.

The new deal extends the partnership between the NCAA and ESPN, which began 45 years ago in 1979, the year of ESPN’s original network launch. NCAA championship events will continue be carried across ESPN and Disney platforms, including broadcast and cable networks ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, as well as ESPN+.

The agreement calls for the NCAA and ESPN to work together to “maximize exposure opportunities” on ABC and ESPN throughout the eight-year term. The national championship game in Division I women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s gymnastics, and the Football Championship Subdivision are guaranteed to air on ABC each year, with additional ABC exposure guaranteed within the overall softball and baseball championships as well. The agreement also includes a guarantee that at least 10 of the championships will have selections shows distributed on linear ESPN networks.

Select rounds of NCAA championships will be exclusively available on ESPN+, which includes 24,000 college games each year spanning more than 20 conferences, which ESPN and the NCAA said will serve to “effectively link” regular season and championship coverage for fans. Launched in April 2018, ESPN+ now has more than 25 million subscribers.

Pictured above: Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark takes a shot against the Minnesota Gophers’ Janay Sanders at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Dec. 30, 2023


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