SEC, ESPN reach new 10-year agreement beginning in 2024-25

By Kevin Kelley -

The Southeastern Conference (SEC) and ESPN have reach a new 10-year agreement beginning in 2024-25, it was announced on Thursday.

The new 10-year agreement “…grants ABC and ESPN exclusive broadcast rights to premier SEC football and basketball events beginning in 2024-25 and continuing through 2033-34.”

The most significant part of the agreement is that SEC football games on Saturday afternoons will move from their current home on CBS to ABC. Additionally, selected SEC football games will be available for primetime broadcasts on ABC and the annual SEC Football Championship Game will be televised by ABC as well.

“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. “The broadcast industry’s intense and widespread interest in securing the SEC’s First Tier rights is a direct reflection of the sustained excellence achieved by our 14 member schools, and we are thrilled to have been able to maximize our current position of strength to benefit our student-athletes, the fans who go to our games and home viewers.”

Below are broadcast and scheduling elements of the new 10-year agreement:

  • Regular SEC Football Game on ABC on Saturday Afternoons
  • Additional football games on ABC Saturday Nights
  • SEC Football Championship Game on ABC
  • Introduction of a modernized, more fan-friendly scheduling process, with many game windows solidified earlier while providing flexibility to maximize the exposure of the Conference’s biggest games
  • More marquee men’s basketball games on ABC or ESPN
  • Additional non-conference men’s basketball games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2
  • Beginning with the 2021-22 season, the right to place a limited number of non-conference football and men’s basketball games on ESPN+ that will allow schools autonomy to determine start times

The fourth bullet point above will delight fans and probably teams also. Beginning in fall 2024, most games will be assigned to designated game windows.

This new scheduling process means that, well in advance of the season, fans will know the general start time for many of their games, while still providing adequate flexibility for ESPN to maximize the exposure of the SEC’s biggest and best games and react to storylines throughout the season.

The new agreement also gives ESPN the right to “…move a limited number of non-conference games in football and men’s basketball to ESPN+ beginning in the 2021-22 season.

“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. “With all SEC events now under The Walt Disney Company umbrella, we were able to craft an agreement that includes more lead time for many game time announcements, and in many ways modernizes the college football scheduling process.”

SEC Football Schedule

Comments (11)

This is a huge blow to NBC

NBC needed the SEC more than ABC did – ABC already had the other four P5 leagues, three shared with Fox.

NBC has only had Notre Dame since 1991, but ND’s last title came three years before that, much to the frustration of NBC.

In contrast, the SEC has won most national titles since 2006, one at ND’s expense, and even had the champions last year, LSU.

With CBS losing the SEC and NBC losing out on the SEC, I believe they will look to jointly take over the Big 12 rights from Fox Sports and ESPN/ABC in 2025.

When NBC became the exclusive television partner of the NCAA for CFB in 1952, the very first game was a game between TCU and Kansas – a matchup that is now a Big 12 rivalry. So the Big 12, which as the Big 8 helped launch NBC’s CFB TV package in 1952, would come full circle by aligning with NBC.

Besides, between the Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12, Fox could stand to lose one of those conferences. They’d probably keep the Big Ten and Pac-12 because those two have their Rose Bowl tradition, though the CFP airs on ESPN.

The Big 12 also once televised games on Versus, now known as NBCSN. Thus, it would be a homecoming.

Furthermore, if Notre Dame hasn’t won a national title by the time their NBC contract ends after 2025, they will be dumped by the network.

They could have kept both their title drought and their NBC contract had NBC landed the SEC, which as I mentioned has the most national titles since 2006.

This would not apply if NBC picks up the Big 12, which last won a title in 2005.

Dumped is strong, however championships = ratings = Millions of Dollars to Notre Dame. If anything this move takes away one of the few options that would get better ratings than Notre Dame.

Under my proposed CBS/NBC joint Big 12 contact, both broadcast networks would air Big 12 games as Fox and ABC both currently do. WarnerMedia, which I had pegged to share the SEC cable rights with ESPN, also becomes a Big 12 partner, airing games on TNT.

NBC would air games in late afternoon slots in all weeks, and CBS in most weeks, instead deferring to primetime when CBS airs an MWC game in the late afternoon. NBC would air a Big 12 game in primetime whenever Notre Dame is not scheduled to play a home game, otherwise they have the primetime slot on NBC (contingent on winning a national title between 2020-25).

CBS would also produce games for Paramount Movie Network and a limited slate for CBS Sports Network (usually lower-profile games which are currently assigned to RSNs mostly). NBC would produce games for USA Network and a limited slate for NBCSN.

I just don’t believe NBC, as a network, is as focused on sports, especially college football, as ABC is and ABC (with ESPN) has many more resources at their disposal.

Sure, there are spots on NBC, but you can see that NBC’s approach is to select sporting events that appeal to a broader audience than a single conference. Not that a conference like the SEC doesn’t have broad appeal, it does, But when you look at the networks previous choices, such as their Sunday Night football package, their basically owning the broadcast of the the Olympics in the US, their deal with Notre Dame makes more sense. They are a national brand, perhaps even international to some degree, they are able to schedule games outside of a single region, etc. So, Notre Dame could easily leave NBC when the time comes, but I doubt NBC would dump them since it seems they fit the criteria that NBC is looking for in sports. I could see CBS being interested in acquiring the rights to another conference, but NBC’s focus just seems so different when it comes to the sports they pursue.

I agree with Arnold. Yes Z-Man Notre Dame hasn’t won a national title in decades but they appear much closer to their next one than teams such as Texas, Florida State, and Auburn who have won a national title since Notre Dame did. By the way the college game of year up to this point was Notre Dame-Clemson on NBC. Notre Dame and NBC can also decide the times of their games in the spring as they do every year. The 2:30pm start gives fans who are bored with a Big Noon blowout a chance to watch a different game. If its close casual fans may stay until the end that wouldn’t have if Notre Dame started at 3:30. If Notre Dame signs with another network that airs other college games it will have to fight for prime time slots or be sent to ESPNU when they play a MAC school.

Like Arnold said the NBC deal is a happy marriage between both school and network. I don’t see why either party would want to leave.

I guess NBC could keep Notre Dame, but them and CBS taking the Big 12 from Fox and ABC would keep the status quo of ABC not having all the P5 conferences in their stable that has been in place since 1996.

Furthermore realignment is around the corner again.

The SEC could bolster its new TV deal by poaching Oklahoma and Oklahoma State from the Big 12. Missouri right now is in the East even though they are one of the westernmost SEC schools, which is done to protect certain rivalries.

But poaching OU and OKST would allow Missouri to move to the West, and Alabama and Auburn to the East.

In turn the Big 12 could see a huge expansion of its own after losing its presence in Oklahoma.

6 schools from the American – Houston, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Temple, and UCF – plus two of the stronger western FBS teams outside the Pac-12 – Boise State and BYU – could all join the Big 12 to form a 16-team league.

Cincinnati will probably try to join the ACC to reunite with Louisville.

I just don’t think the geography of divisions inside conferences matter much. So, Missouri being in the SEC East isn’t really the issue some make it out to be.

If Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were to leave the Big 12, the Big 12 dies. Texas isn’t going to stick around just to play Kansas and Iowa State. They’d go independent or to the Pac 12 or try to get into the SEC. But I just don’t see that happening anytime soon.

All of that said, I’d like to see CBS grab the Big 12.

A&M won’t let Texas into the SEC, plus OK politicians want to keep Bedlam going even if in a different conference