New $920M ESPN, NCAA Deal Includes Games Exclusive To ESPN+

Disney’s ESPN and the National Collegiate Athletic Association have signed a new, eight-year sports rights deal worth about $920 million.

The deal, set to start on Sept. 1, includes domestic and international rights to an unprecedented 40 NCAA championships, including 21 women’s and 19 men’s events, as well as men’s basketball’s March Madness Division 1 tournament.

It has an average annual value of $115 million, which represents an increase of more than 300% over the value of the NCAA’s previous, 14-year deal with ESPN, NCAA President Charlie Baker told the AP.

The deal includes enhanced broadcast sponsorship and footage rights for ESPN across its full portfolio of platforms and championships rights.

In total, more than 2,300 hours of championships will be presented on ESPN’s linear and digital platforms each year, including more than 800 hours on ESPN’s broadcast and cable linear networks and digital networks, including ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN+.



Select rounds of championships will be available exclusively on ESPN+, which offers 24,000 college games spanning 20 conferences each year. ESPN+ currently has more than 25 million subscribers, according to Disney.

The agreement calls for NCAA and ESPN to work together to maximize exposure opportunities.

The national championship game in Division I women’s basketball, volleyball and 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. It also includes a guarantee that at least 10 of the championships will have some shows distributed on linear ESPN networks.

Last year, the women’s basketball tournament came in for criticism as some players complained that the women’s teams were provided with facilities inferior to the men’s teams.

The new media rights deal will enable “several enhancements to student-athlete benefits across all three NCAA divisions will take effect, and this deal will help fund those important programs,” said Linda Livingstone, chair of the NCAA Board of Governors and President of Baylor University. “And the national, integrated platform the family of ESPN networks provides will help grow the visibility of many NCAA sports, particularly for our women student-athletes,.

In a statement, Baker said the NCAA “has worked in earnest over the past year to ensure that this new broadcast agreement provides the best possible outcome for all NCAA championships, and in particular women’s championships.”

ESPN and the NCAA have had a business relationships since ESPN launched in 1979.

Here’s a summary of all the coverage included in the new deal:

  • Men’s championships: soccer, football (FCS, DII & DIII), cross country, water polo, indoor track & field, swimming & diving, wrestling, ice hockey, gymnastics, fencing, volleyball, lacrosse, outdoor track & field, tennis, baseball and basketball (including DII semifinals & DIII semifinals and championship).
  • Women’s championships: soccer, field hockey, volleyball (including DII & DIII), cross country, indoor track & field, swimming & diving, basketball (including DII & DIII), ice hockey, bowling, gymnastics, fencing, beach volleyball, lacrosse, outdoor track & field, tennis, softball, and water polo. 
  • Men’sNational Invitation Tournament (NIT) and Women’s Basketball Invitation Tournament (WBIT); NCAA Div I Men’s Basketball Championship (international rights).
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