ESPN-ABC Will Become the Home of SEC Football in 2024

By A.J. Katz 

The Southeastern Conference is leaving its longtime broadcast home at CBS Sports in 2024 for ESPN and ABC.

This groundbreaking announcement was made official Thursday afternoon during the Disney investor call.

The SEC’s new TV contract with Disney is for 10 years, and will give the conference more money and more game flexibility.

SBJ reported last December that ESPN’s annual fee for the SEC was expected to be roughly $300 million. That’s significantly more than the $55 million per year that the conference receives from CBS—a relative bargain agreement that was struck 24 years ago, back in 1996. CBS was reportedly willing to pay substantially more than the $55 million annual fee, but it wasn’t willing to approach ESPN’s $300+ million annual figure with America’s marquee college football conference.

If the SEC-ESPN deal is worth the reported $300-plus million a year, SEC schools each stand to make about $20 million more in annual TV revenue starting in 2024, which, according to Sports Illustrated, means the SEC moves past the Big Ten as the wealthiest conference in terms of annual TV cash.

So, what can SEC fans expect from this new deal, scheduling-wise? Well, ESPN and ABC have rights to broadcast the league’s 15 best football matchups as well as 8 marquee basketball games.

ABC will also have rights to the SEC football championship game, which will air in the SEC’s marquee 3:30 p.m. ET time slot. And starting in 2021, the network can broadcast one nonconference football matchup on ESPN+ with each team.

According to Sports Illustrated, the conference now has the option for its marquee matchup each week not to be locked into that traditional 3:30 p.m. ET time slot, as was the case with CBS Sports. While the conference will be assured a weekly late-afternoon time slot on ABC, its marquee matchups can shift to ABC’s prime-time time slot, ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro told SI.

What will become of the legendary SEC on CBS theme song? Don’t worry, college football fans, this isn’t going away just yet:

In other sports business news, Adweek’s Kelsey Sutton is reporting that ESPN’s OTT streaming service ESPN+ will become a paid add-on within the Disney-owned Hulu interface early next year. ESPN+ currently sports 11.5 million subscribers.

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