Jan 4, 2024 - Business

NCAA signs new $920M TV deal with ESPN

LSU's Angel Reese celebrates winning the 2023 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament championship game at American Airlines Center on April 02, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

The NCAA has signed a new, eight-year TV deal worth nearly $1 billion to cover 40 of its championships with ESPN, the collegiate organization announced Thursday.

Why it matters: This is the first of multiple, big media deal dominoes to fall in 2024 and represents a hefty increase in value.

Details: The agreement is valued at $115 million annually, NCAA President Charlie Baker told Sports Business Journal. That total includes roughly $28 million in production and marketing costs.

  • The deal includes all previous championships under the current deal, which expires after this school year. It also adds the Division I men's and women's tennis team championships and the national collegiate men's gymnastics championship.
  • Division II and Division III also add coverage on ESPN platforms of championships in men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball.
  • The 2032 expiration of the deal now puts it on the same timeline as the men's basketball tournament's media deal with Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery.

Be smart: Notably, the deal includes rights to the Women's Basketball Tournament following speculation that the NCAA was looking to break them out separately.

  • It was an open question on how valuable the group of championships would have been without the inclusion of the women's basketball tournament.
  • Baker told SBJ that they valued the women's tournament at $65 million annually, accounting for roughly 56% of the deal's annual value.

The big picture: The media rights market is tightening amid the secular decline of cable and the last decade of rising costs for sports.

  • That's forced leagues to seek out more TV partners than before and reach out to tech giants like Amazon, Apple and YouTube that are increasingly looking to get into sports.
  • NASCAR expanded from two to four TV partners, adding Warner Bros. Discovery and Amazon, to help land a 40% fee increase.

What's next: The NBA's rights will be the one to watch in 2024 — its deals with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery expire in 2025.

  • Additionally, the College Football Playoff will court additional TV partners for next year's expanded 12-team format. In 2026, the entire playoff will be up for grabs.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say that NCAA president Charlie Baker told the Sports Business Journal the women's tournament would account for roughly 56% of the deal's annual value, not 75%.

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