It’s pretty substantial, relatively speaking.
The American Athletic Conference and ESPN reportedly have reached a long-term agreement that is worth $1 billion. The new deal would pay UCF and other AAC schools close to $7 million per year when it goes into effect to start the 2020-21 academic year.
ESPN would pay an average of $83.3 million per year, according to the Sports Business Journal. That’s four times the amount the AAC receives through its current rights agreement of a little more than $20 million annually.
The new deal runs through 2031-32.
It includes an annual payout of $6.94 million per AAC school, which is up $5 million from the current rights deal payout.
Sure, that pales in comparison to your typical P5 partnership arrangement, but four times more is still four times more. The real indicator this is a mid-major deal is this:
However, according to SBJ’s John Ourand, the new AAC agreement does include language that would protect ESPN financially in the event top programs leave the American and join other conferences during the contract.
Mickey doesn’t get to bargain for that kind of bet-hedging with the SEC.
In any event, what this really tells us is that, despite all the Clay Travis-type warnings about ESPN’s bleak future and what that means for college athletics, there’s still no safer place for a television network to put its money than live sports product.