Saturday, December 20, 2014

Big East football schools, including Temple, sign long-term television deal with ESPN

Temple fans will be able to watch all of the Owls´ home football and men´s basketball game under the Big East football schools´ new rights deal with ESPN. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)
Temple fans will be able to watch all of the Owls' home football and men's basketball game under the Big East football schools' new rights deal with ESPN. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)

The Big East's football schools, including Temple, have agreed to a media rights deal with ESPN that will run from 2014 through 2020.

It includes rights to all football, basketball and Olympic sports telecasts. Games will be shown across a wide range of TV networks - including over the air on ABC - as well as ESPN's online streaming platform.

ESPN's current football deal with the Big East includes the 2013 season, and its basketball deal runs through the 2013-14 campaign. The new deal will bring all of the rights under one contract.

The conference that the Big East's football schools will form has yet to be given an official name. Villanova, Georgetown and other Big East basketball schools took the conference name to their new basketball-centric league.

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In the new conference, Temple will be joined by Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Houston, Memphis, Rutgers, South Florida and Southern Methodist.

Louisville is leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference after the 2013-14 academic year, and Rutgers is leaving for the Big Ten at the same time. They will be replaced by East Carolina and Tulane for all sports. Navy will join for football only in 2015. Tulsa and Massachusetts have been floated as possible further additions for all sports.

On the football side, all games whose rights are controlled by the Big East - i.e., in which a Big East team is the home team - will be broadcast in some form. 

Almost all of them will air on an ESPN network. The only exception will be Navy. which according to CBSSports.com will retain the rights to its home games through the 2017 season. The Midshipmen have an existing contract with CBS until that time. In addition, the Army-Navy game is a CBS property until 2018.

After that, it seems likely that the Midshipmen will move their games to ESPN.

Of the games owned by ESPN, 90 percent will be televised nationally over the air or on cable, and the minimum number of TV broadcasts will be higher than the number of broadcasts in the Big East's current deal. No specific number of telecasts was given.

In addition, when the Big East launches a football title game, it will air on ABC or ESPN on the same Saturday as other major conference championship games. The Big East said in a press release that the football title game is expected to launch in 2015.

On the basketball side, a minimum of 107 games will be nationally televised. The entire conference tournament will be on ABC or ESPN, at a venue that has yet to be determined. Hartford, Conn., and Memphis, Tenn., have been reported in the past as potential sites.

All games whose rights are controlled by the conference will be televised and/or streamed online by ESPN. This is of quite some consequence to Big 5 basketball fans, as it guarantees that all of Temple's City Series home games will be easily accessible.

That has not always been the case under the Atlantic 10's deal with CBS Sports - especially in recent years. Starting with the 2006-2007 season, the conference signed a contract that gave CSTV - the network now known as CBS Sports Network - the rights to set up regional syndication for games.

It took a while for CSTV and CBS to reach a deal with Comcast to broadcast games in Philadelphia that were not on national TV.

Even through this past season, many Temple home games were not televised or streamed online by a TV network's website. That included contests against Penn, Charlotte and Richmond. Other teams across the Atlantic 10, including La Salle and Saint Joseph's, faced similar situations.

Going forward, you'll now be able to watch every Owls home football and men's basketball somewhere. Any game not on a ESPN network will be streamed online and broadcast either on a local media outlet or a different national network.

In addition to football and men's basketball, there will also be a considerable amount of women's basketball on the new network. You can expect national power Connecticut to feature prominently.

Approximately 60 games will air on a combination of ESPN networks, ESPN3.com and regional sports networks. The conference tournament final will air on ESPN or ESPN2 and the semifinals will be on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Finally, you'll see non-major sports such as baseball, softball and soccer included as part of the deal as well. Those details are still to come.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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