ESPN Cuts Big Deal For Big East, Scrimmages Through 2013

ESPN, which has carried Big East Conference basketball for 25 years, has reached a new six-year deal with the conference to carry basketball and football games.

The deal, which starts next year and runs through 2013, follows other recent ESPN deals in which the company has locked up multimedia rights. Under the agreement, TV channels ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will be used, as well as broadband service ESPN360, plus VOD and mobile outlets.

At least 75 Big East hoops games a year will be carried under the agreement. A Big East game will continue on flagship ESPN as part of its "Big Monday" lineup, while the full conference tournament remains on ESPN and ESPN2.

The basketball deal enables ESPN to cover every Big East game on every ESPN entity, except for select games on CBS Sports. The deal also covers VOD and Mobile ESPN, which could carry live games. For football, ESPN networks will carry at least 19 games each fall, including games on Thursday and Friday nights, plus some Sundays.

ESPN360 could also be used--while ABC, for which sports will now fall under the "ESPN on ABC" banner, will carry three games a season. Other aspects of the broader Big East deal include some 26 women's basketball games on ESPN networks, plus coverage of so-called non-revenue-producing sports, most prominently on ESPNU.

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