Dec 21, 2019

SEC football to exit CBS after 2023 season, will likely move to ESPN/ABC

Photo: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Southeastern Conference (SEC) football will no longer partner with CBS after its contract expires following the 2023 season, and will likely move to ESPN/ABC, Sports Business Journal reports.

The state of play: CBS reportedly made an aggressive bid for college football's most-watched TV package, offering about $300 million per season, but network executives decided they would rather invest the money into airing other sports, per the Sports Business Journal.

  • CBS currently pays $55 million per year for streaming rights, and ESPN/ABC is reportedly prepared to pay six times that as negotiations wrap up.
  • CBS has broadcast SEC games since 1996, the Sports Business Journal notes.

The big picture per Axios' Sara Fischer: It will be interesting to see moving forward if networks continue to win over regional and local sports leagues or if tech companies continue stepping in. There’s less risk involved in moving local content than national league content to tech platforms that are willing to spend lots of cash.

  • As evident with CBS, networks will only be willing to spend so much for local or regional rights when they could invest that money in national sports rights.

Our thought bubble: This deal shows how much value is being placed on live sports in an era when very few things are viewed live anymore.

  • Worth noting per Axios' Kendall Baker: This would make ESPN heavily invested in the SEC Network, which they already own, but it also shows how invested they are in college football as a whole — where they have the rights to the playoff and bowl season.

Go deeper: The sports streaming landscape, mapped

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ESPN college football reporter dies at 34

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The big picture: The native of Oxford, Miss., tweeted: "Anyone ever had multifocal (bilateral) pneumonia in their early 30s as some[one] who never gets sick and has a very good immune system? Asking for two friends … my lungs."

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