The American Athletic Conference has established itself as one of the best under the radar conferences in the nation. Since its foundation in 2013, the conference has seen consecutive undefeated regular seasons in football with UCF and consecutive top-10 teams in the NCAA tournament in Cincinnati and Houston. ESPN and the AAC have come to an agreement that is worth $1 billion, according to Sports Business Daily.
The new contract is good for 12 years, making it an average of $83.3 million a year. The contract gives each school more than $5 million in annual revenue, which is huge for the schools in the AAC.
The conference did not sign a grant of rights, which would have restricted the AAC from making the jump to a power conference.
The new deal starts in the ’20-21 academic year and will run till ’31-32. ESPN now has the rights to all of the AAC’s live programming except for the basketball games that will be broadcasted by CBS and the Navy football games on CBS Sports Network. Saturday football games will be available on ABC as part of the new contract. The biggest takeaway from the deal is the move to ESPN+, the ESPN product that people have to pay monthly to obtain.
The majority of the basketball games and some football games will now be seen on ESPN+, along with soccer, baseball, and softball. The sudden change in how AAC’s games are being broadcasted is understandable as ESPN wants to capitalize on the conference’s popularity.
The media giant had success with putting games on ESPN+ due to the play of Murray State guard Ja Morant as many Racer games were on ESPN+.
CBS has not begun contract renewal talks with the AAC, giving ESPN a huge advantage to keep the conference games in the long run. The new deal gives AAC more credit as a major conference, which could bring up the national prestige of the AAC in the future.