ESPN Paying Big Time to Stay on Campus

August 27, 2008 |

According to Sports Business Journal, ESPN will pay the Southeastern Conference (SEC) $2.25 billion over the next 15 years – about $150 million a year – for the conference’s TV rights, giving the network all of the SEC’s content that will not taken by CBS.  This is on top of the $55 million per year that CBS pays for the over the air package of games. The SEC will rake in over $205 million per year for media rights beginning in 2009-10.

ESPN’s preemptive strike stops the league from pursuing a regional cable network like the Big Ten Conference recently started.   It also gives ESPN programming for its fledging ESPNU channel and its main networks ESPN & ESPN2.

So what will the ACC do next?  Will the conference look to start a network like the Big Ten or does follow the SEC’s lead and try to strong arm ESPN or Fox?  ESPN is more than willing to pay to keep down its competition.  The question is does ACC football have the same cache as SEC football.  But you have to believe the ACC hoops package, with national heavyweights Duke and North Carolina along with major media markets in Atlanta, Boston & Baltimore/DC, would be an attractive rights package.