CBS targeting another conference after SEC deal expires, per report
In the college football arms war for TV inventory, CBS lost the biggest asset when the SEC agreed to take its biggest games from CBS to ESPN/ABC at the expiration of its current contract in 2023.
The Worldwide Leader begins broadcasting late-afternoon SEC games in 2024, part of a 10-year, $3 billion deal agreed to at the end of 2020. The SEC on CBS Game of the Week, arguably the most valuable slot on a college football Saturday, will move to ESPN properties. The question that move prompted was whether CBS, with a gaping hole in its inventory, would pivot away from major college football?
According to new reporting from The Athletic’s media writer , don’t expect CBS to go away. Look for the broadcaster to make a play at either the Big Ten conference or the Pac-12 conference when either of their TV rights deals expire in 2024 (ESPN/FOX) and at the end of the 2023-24 school year.
“The SEC has been great for us, and I think we’ve been really good for the SEC also. It’s the most valuable window in college football, the 3:30 (p.m. ET) window on CBS,” said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus, per. “We plan to be involved in the business of college football, big-time college football, going forward, and I think to take advantage of that tradition we’ve established.
“You know, when we put the SEC on national television back in 2001, people thought we were crazy. ‘The Southeastern Conference? Who in the Midwest and who in the Northeast and who in the West is going to care about the SEC?’ But we promoted it, and we said ‘Every week at 3:30, you’re going to see the best SEC game.’ We grew it. I think for 12 years in a row, it’s been the most-viewed college window in all of college football. Whatever we decide to do, that window is still going to be available for high-profile, very watchable college football. We’ve got 2 more years to go on our deal. We’re going to continue to promote it and produce it, and I think our production team is great. That’s part of the reason why it’s such a great window is (how) the games look and feel different the way our CBS team produces them.”
McManus, Deitsch wrote, said CBS will remain aggressive in looking for CFB packages in the future.
Deitsch also reported that ESPN will break from the CBS mold of putting the best SEC game in the 3:30 p.m. ET slot when it takes over the league’s media rights in 2024. ESPN has committed to putting an SEC game on ABC in the same window, but it will look to flex between ABC and ESPN channels as well as late-afternoon and primetime slots for the highest-profile SEC games.