Sports media insider believes ESPN will buyout SEC deal from CBS: 'I would put it at 95 percent'
While the news has not yet been officially announced, several media insiders are reporting that the CBS-SEC package will not be renewed beyond the current deal, which runs until the 2023 season.
The CBS-SEC TV deal was agreed upon back in 1996 with the current figures heavily favoring CBS. The network pays the SEC $55 million annually to air the SEC on CBS game of the week (in the 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT time slot on Saturdays) and the league’s conference championship game at the end of the regular season.
While $55 million is certainly a ton of money, ESPN/ABC is reporting planning to pay the SEC over $300 million annually for the same package according to John Ourand of the Sports Business Daily.
For SEC fans eager to see the league leave CBS for ESPN/ABC, Ourand recently shared some good news during his appearance on the Sports Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch.
Here’s what Ourand had to say when Deitsch asked him the odds that ESPN would manage to get the SEC deal early from CBS (before the current deal expires in 2023).
“I would put it at 95 percent that ESPN figures out how to buy CBS out,” Ourand said on the podcast. “I’m not really sure when that would happen, I would expect CBS will have it at least one more year, but beyond that — ESPN is coming to this negotiation as more than just dollars and cents, too.”
Why would CBS give up the SEC package to ESPN early, considering the value of SEC programming and the price CBS is paying for it? According to Ourand, CBS may be motivated to do so in exchange for other broadcasting rights.
“Suppose ESPN says, ‘We have the American Athletic Conference and we’ll give you 10 years, you can have some of those rights.’ The Big 12 rights, or the Pac-12. They have rights everywhere that they could mix and match (in exchange for the SEC rights),” Ourand suggested. “If you are CBS, you have three more years of the SEC or I can do one more year of the SEC and 10 more years of good programming that we could put in that time slot for essentially that same price. Those negotiations and those talks have not happened yet, but I would expect it to be a lot more of a barter deal than a straight, like, ‘Hey, here’s some money and let us have it early.'”
That’s certainly an interesting theory. If CBS does indeed lose the SEC package, the network must determine how long it wants to hold on to a property it won’t have for much longer. The sooner CBS gives up the SEC, the more the network potentially stands to gain from a potential exchange in money and/or rights deals from ESPN.