The Sun Belt Conference has signed a new eight-year contract with ESPN that gives the network exclusive multimedia rights to all of the league's sports.
Terms were not disclosed, but the Sun Belt announced Thursday that the new agreement included enhancements to the current contract with ESPN that runs through the 2019-20 academic year. The new deal runs through 2027-28.
The enhancements guarantee the new Sun Belt football championship will be broadcast starting this season on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. All Sun Belt home football games will continue to be available on either an ESPN television or digital platform, including the soon-to-be unveiled ESPN Plus subscription streaming service. Over the next two seasons, the number of Sun Belt men and women's basketball games shown on ESPN platforms will increase to a minimum of 100 in 2018-19 and a minimum of 150 in 2019-20.
"We are thrilled to take that relationship to a new level via this new, innovative and exclusive extension, while also deepening out commitment to serving college sports fans," said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of scheduling and acquisitions.
Beginning in 2020-21, a minimum of 500 events a year will appear on ESPN platforms, and a minimum of 10 Sun Belt home football games per season will be carried on one of the network's linear TV channels, including ESPNU.
"The exposure out institutions receive is a tremendous value to all of ur athletic programs and itr serves to strengthen them and the conference as a whole," Georgia State President Mark Becker said in a statement.
A person familiar with the deal, who spoke to the AP on condition on condition of anonymity because the value of the contract was not disclosed by ESPN or the Sun Belt, said the new agreement will increase annual payouts to Sun Belt members. The current ESPN contract pays schools about $100,000 per year.
Sun Belt football consists of South Alabama, Troy, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Arkansas State and Texas State. Texas-Arlington and Arkansas-Little Rock compete in other Sun Belt sports.