The Southeastern Conference has inked a landmark deal granting ESPN and ABC exclusive broadcast rights to premier SEC football and basketball events for a 10-year period.
Starting with the 2024-25 season, ABC will become the home for Saturday afternoon SEC football games, select Saturday primetime football games, and the annual SEC Football Championship Game. ABC and ESPN will also feature eight incremental marquee men’s basketball games.
This new agreement will see the SEC leave CBS, which has broadcast the conference’s football games since 1996. CBS currently pays $55 million annually for broadcasting rights for SEC games.
As a result of the new agreement, all of SEC media rights now fall under the Walt Disney Company banner.
The new contract runs through the 2033-34 season. This new contract is separate from existing contracts between the SEC and ESPN for broadcasting rights for women’s basketball, baseball and softball and ESPN’s agreement for operating the SEC Network. All of the existing agreements also continue through 2033-34, according to a SEC news release.
“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,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “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.”
Under the agreement, all SEC-controlled regular season games will be produced and distributed via ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN+, SEC Network or SEC Network+, and SEC football games will be televised regularly on ABC on Saturday afternoons with an option to feature major SEC games on ABC’s Saturday Night Football. ABC or ESPN will also host the annual late afternoon Thanksgiving Friday game, in addition to ABC hosting the SEC Football Championship Game.
Beginning with the 2021-22 season, there will be a maximum one non-conference game per school each season on ESPN+ or SECN+.
This deal allows for SEC games to appear on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN+, SECN and/or SECN+ without any broadcast exclusivity during the afternoon window. The start time for the afternoon window is between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET. The primetime window has a start time of 6-8 p.m. ET.
The new agreement also packages men’s basketball games, guaranteeing approximately eight new ABC/ESPN national windows and allowing more non-conference games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2.
There will be two non-conference men’s basketball games per school each year allowed on ESPN+ starting in the 2021-22 season.
As part of the new scheduling, there will be early assignment of most games in designated time windows. This will provide advance notice of the general start times for most games and will allow ESPN to “maximize the exposure of the SEC’s biggest and best games.”