The Big East Conference could be switching networks.
ESPN has a 60-day exclusivity window to reach a new deal with the Big East (which ends next week), however the basketball-heavy conference is not going to do so. Rather the Big East will wait to negotiate its television rights with several other networks, including NBC Sports Network and FOX.
A return to ESPN is not being ruled out, according to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy. The Big East is attempting to up its value by adding other suitors, league sources told ESPN.
The Big East’s current six-year media rights deal is worth $3.12 million annually for each of the eight full members and $1.5 million annually for each of the eight non-football members. The eight football members split $13 million; the 16 basketball members split $24 million.
In April of 2011, former Big East commissioner John Marinatto recommended the Big East accept a nine-year deal from ESPN worth $1.17 billion, an average of $130 million annually. That deal would have earned full members $13.8 million a year and non-football members $2.43 million a year. However, the league’s presidents voted to turn it down.
At that time, that offer was comparable to the ACC’s media rights deal (then worth $155 million annually), but the Big East’s presidents gambled they could get a better deal by waiting until now.
It’s uncertain what the Big East’s new media rights deal will bring. Media estimates have varied drastically, putting the Big East’s media rights worth between $60 million to $130 million annually.
The landscape of the Big East has changed in the past 12 months. Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame, and West Virginia have all announced the we will leave or have already left the Big East.
Temple will join this year, while Boise State, San Diego State, Houston Central Florida, Memphis, Navy, and SMU all join by 2015.
Back in April at the Big East spring meetings, both NBC Sports and FOX made pitches to the league, with NBC leaving a strong impression.
Football has sparked the drastic change in the Big East in the last season, yet the league is still one of the best basketball conferences in the nation.
Hoops will play a big role in the new TV deal, especially after the Big East inked a new extension to stay in Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament.
Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne