SEC announces new TV deal with ABC, ESPN for football, basketball
A big change is coming to the SEC. On Thursday, the conference announced its new TV deal with ABC and ESPN. The announcement was made during “Investor Day” for Disney, ABC and ESPN’s parent company. The “SEC on ABC” beginning in 2024 (including the SEC Championship Game) headlines the new agreement. Other changes, detailed below, include more scheduling flexibility and non-conference games on the ESPN+ streaming platform. As you can see in ESPN’s detailed announcement below, some changes will occur before 2024.
ESPN and the SEC have reached a new 10-year agreement beginning in 2024-25 (fall 2024–spring 2025 sports season), which will add up to 15 premier football games, including top rivalries like Alabama vs. Auburn and Florida vs. Georgia, plus the SEC Football Championship, in addition to approximately eight marquee men’s basketball matchups each year across ESPN or ABC. With the new deal, every SEC football and men’s basketball game will now be carried on an ESPN network, including ABC, solidifying ESPN as the exclusive rights holder of the SEC and resulting in enhanced programming flexibility across both sports. The new agreement will be co-terminus with the separate, existing 20-year agreement between ESPN and the SEC that also runs through 2033-34 and sees ESPN carry more than 1,950 SEC games each year across the conference’s 21 sports on ESPN networks and SEC Network.
SEC on ABC Football Games is Hallmark of New Agreement
ABC will air an SEC-controlled football game each week beginning in 2024, including a regular late-afternoon kickoff. In addition, ESPN will have the ability to feature marquee SEC games on ABC’s Saturday Night Football for the first time, ensuring some of the biggest games in the conference each year are featured in primetime.
Scheduling Flexibility with Conference’s Top Matchups
With ABC added to the arsenal of SEC football outlets, along with ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and SEC Network, ESPN will maximize the SEC’s exposure and reach while simultaneously serving the fans and conference member schools. As a pillar of this strategy, the conference’s top matchup each week will no longer be locked into the late afternoon window and instead, ESPN will have flexibility to position such games in the window and on the network that best maximizes exposure.
SEC Football Championship on ABC
The entirety of the conference’s regular season will build up to the SEC Football Championship, which will now air on ABC in the late afternoon each season. The week prior to the SEC Football Championship, ESPN or ABC will feature an annual late afternoon Thanksgiving Friday SEC game.
ESPN+ Adds Rights to SEC Non-Conference Games Beginning in 2021-22 Season
An element of the rights deal that will begin next season, ESPN+ will have the right to stream one non-conference football game and two non-conference men’s basketball games per SEC school each season. In total, ESPN+ will carry up to 14 non-conference football games and up to 20 non-conference men’s basketball games annually.
“This new agreement was born from a strong foundation which began almost 25 years ago and now reflects a shared vision of the future with the SEC, Commissioner Sankey and their member institutions” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “With all the conference’s games under the ESPN umbrella and adding ABC and ESPN+ to our distribution channels, ESPN will have complete scheduling flexibility, resulting in maximum exposure and adding significant benefits for SEC schools and fans.”
“This is a significant day for the Southeastern Conference and for the future of our member institutions. Our agreement with ESPN will greatly enhance our ability to support our student-athletes in the years ahead and to further enrich the game day experience for SEC fans around the world,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “One of our primary goals was to improve the television scheduling process in ways that will benefit our students, coaches, alumni and fans,” Sankey added. “By working in collaboration with ESPN, we were able to secure an agreement that includes more lead time for many game time announcements, and in many ways modernizes the college football scheduling process.”
SEC Men’s Basketball Now Exclusively on ESPN Networks
With the addition of approximately eight high-profile games per year, starting in the 2024-25 season, every SEC men’s basketball game will air across ESPN networks, including the right to put SEC basketball games on ABC.
New Agreement Completes Extensive Relationship between ESPN and SEC
The new ESPN and SEC agreement adds to the already stout offering of SEC on ESPN events each year. In addition to ABC and ESPN+, football games will remain on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU via a mix of early afternoon, late afternoon and primetime windows, and a full, robust slate of games will air on SEC Network each fall. With the addition of the SEC Football Championship, ESPN will carry all 20 conference championships each year.
Among the championships, the complete coverage of both men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments is included following a regular season where north of 450 regular season games are available each year.
ESPN’s Industry-Leading College Rights Portfolio Bolstered
Becoming the exclusive rights holder of the SEC further entrenches ESPN’s industry-leading position in college athletics, as ESPN now has long-term agreements (10 years or more) with three separate FBS conferences and is the only media company that has agreements with the Autonomy Five. Following the college football regular season, ESPN is the home of the College Football Playoff, New Year’s Six, an expansive 33-game bowl slate and the entire FCS, Division II and Division III Playoff. ESPN’s college football presence is amplified with signature shows surrounding the games, including the College GameDay franchise, the Heisman Trophy Presentation, College Football Awards, and much more.
The SEC becomes the latest conference to be added to the ESPN+ lineup, which includes a total of 20 conferences and thousands of college games each year. Launched in April 2018, ESPN+ has grown quickly to 10.3 million subscribers in just over two years, offering fans thousands of live events, original programming not available on ESPN’s linear TV or digital networks, as well as premium editorial content.
Evolution Media Capital (EMC), an affiliate of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), served as the media advisor to the SEC.