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[08/25/08 - 11:08 AM]
ESPN and Sec Reach Unprecedented 15-Year Agreement
The landmark deal - the longest national rights agreement in ESPN history - will result in ESPN entities carrying more than 5,500 SEC events.

[via press release from ESPN]

ESPN and SEC Reach Unprecedented 15-Year Agreement

Exclusive Games on ESPN, ESPN2 , ESPN on ABC and ESPNU; ESPN Regional Television New SEC Syndication Home; Men's Basketball Tournament Semis/Championship on ESPN on ABC; Comprehensive Multimedia Rights to ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile TV and More

ESPN and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) have reached a milestone 15-year agreement beginning in 2009-10 and continuing through 2023-24, it was announced by George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports, and Mike Slive, SEC Commissioner. The landmark deal � the longest national rights agreement in ESPN history -- will result in ESPN entities (ESPN, ESPN on ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN GamePlan, ESPN FULL COURT, ESPN International, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic) carrying more than 5,500 SEC events � including football, men's and women's basketball, Olympic sports and SEC Championships.

ESPN has televised the SEC since 1982. All national programming will fall under the branding "SEC on ESPN." As part of the agreement:

ESPN and ESPN2 will continue to offer premier SEC games, including Saturday night and two primetime Thursday football games, triple the basketball offerings with three nights (two new) of men's basketball and present SEC Championships in women's basketball, baseball, softball and gymnastics.

ESPN Regional Television will become the new over-the-air syndication home for SEC football and basketball games. In addition, ESPN and the SEC will work together to offer multi-sport packages (including football, men's and women's basketball, Olympic sports and conference championships) of SEC content for regional cable syndication.

ESPNU will now offer exclusive SEC telecasts, including football and basketball and selected conference championships. In addition, the network will present a weekly, hour-long program on SEC sports throughout the academic year as well as sport-by-sport previews, reviews and specials.

The semifinals and championship of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament will be televised nationally for the first time on ESPN on ABC.

All SEC championship games except football will be aired on either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN on ABC, ESPNU or ESPN Classic.

The agreement will also showcase the academic successes of SEC student-athletes by including twice-annual programs dedicated to academic accomplishments of SEC student-athletes; an annual Campus Connection (students take part in the production) telecast at each SEC institution; a weekly segment on an SEC show featuring academics; and an online SEC Academic Network utilizing ESPN360.com technology.

Extensive coverage of women's basketball and Olympic sports will be offered nationally through ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU and regionally through ESPN Regional Television, including both regular-season and conference championships.

Comprehensive multimedia rights are also an integral part of the agreement as live SEC action, including football and basketball, will be offered via simulcasts on ESPN360.com and ESPN Mobile TV and extensive content rights have been granted to ESPN.com.

ESPN International, ESPN GamePlan, ESPN FULL COURT, ESPN Classic and ESPN Deportes will also feature the SEC.

Each SEC institution retains the right to continue a local multi-media rights package.

"The SEC delivers tremendous quality and depth and a devoted, widespread fan base," Bodenheimer said. "This historic deal will offer fans more SEC access than ever before through every form of media that exists today or may be developed during the life of this long-term arrangement. We applaud the leadership of the conference as well as these great academic and athletic institutions for supporting this groundbreaking collaboration."

Slive said, "The Southeastern Conference has embodied excellence for 75 years and during the last 26 years, ESPN has carried the stories of our 12 member institutions throughout the nation and the world. With this landmark agreement, ESPN and its platforms will continue to showcase the SEC with more games and original SEC-dedicated content than ever before. The SEC is looking forward to continuing its relationship with ESPN as we move into our next 75 years."

"The Southeastern Conference is pleased to extend its relationship with ESPN and its wide-ranging outlets in this milestone agreement," said Dr. Lee Todd, President of the University of Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference. "This contract represents an innovative and revolutionary direction for the SEC that will showcase our conference in a variety of means both academically and athletically."

Following are the key details of the new agreement:

Football

ESPN has acquired rights to every SEC home football game (excluding those on the network broadcast package) and will serve as the exclusive national cable home and the syndication rightsholder for the conference.

ESPN and ESPN2: The networks will increase coverage by combining to televise a minimum of 20 SEC games annually, including Saturday night and two primetime Thursday matchups.

ESPNU: The 24-hour college sports network, which launched in March 2005, will present a package of SEC football for the first time, with a Saturday game-of-the-week (generally in primetime and a minimum of 13 games annually).

ESPN Regional Television (ERT): The nation's largest syndicator of collegiate sports programming, becomes the official over-the-air syndication home for the SEC and will feature a game-of-the-week package (generally at 12:30 p.m. ET), with a minimum of 13 games each season throughout the SEC footprint and beyond. In addition, ERT will produce and distribute a studio show.

ESPN360.com: Simulcasts of SEC game telecasts will be offered on the broadband network.

ESPN Mobile TV: Live games will be simulcast on mobile phones.

ESPN International: The agreement includes global rights to present live games and encore presentations.

ESPN Deportes: ESPN has acquired domestic Spanish-language rights for SEC football on the 24-hour, U.S.-based network.

ESPN GamePlan: The out-of-market college football pay-per-view service, will offer SEC action.

ESPN Classic: The network may telecast select SEC live games as well as historic and immediate encore presentations.

ESPN.com: Extensive SEC content, including highlights, will be presented online.

Men's Basketball

As the exclusive national cable home and syndication rightsholder, an ESPN outlet will offer every SEC intra-conference game (excluding those on the network broadcast package) and numerous inter-conference matchups.

ESPN and ESPN2: The networks will triple the offerings by featuring SEC action three nights per week through a minimum of 24 intra-conference games plus an additional six inter-conference matchups involving the SEC each season. Highlighting the increased schedule will be the return of the SEC to ESPN's Super Tuesday and the addition of SEC slots on Thursday and Saturday (ESPN or ESPN2). The SEC will also continue to participate in an annual inter-conference basketball challenge event (e.g. � SEC/Big East Challenge).

ESPNU: The network will televise exclusively a minimum of seven intra-conference and five non-conference games.

ESPN on ABC: A minimum of two regular-season games each season plus the addition of a national telecast of the SEC Tournament Semifinals and Championship Game, giving ABC its first entry into the annual Championship Week.

ESPN Regional Television (ERT): Similar to football, ERT takes over the rights to SEC syndication and will produce and syndicate a minimum of 37 intra-conference games each season throughout SEC territories and beyond. Highlights will include weekly doubleheaders on Saturdays, Wednesday night games, a studio show and the first two rounds of the SEC Tournament.

ESPN360.com: Simulcasts of SEC game telecasts will be offered on the broadband network.

ESPN Mobile TV: Live games will be simulcast on mobile phones.

ESPN International: The agreement includes global rights to present live games and encore presentations.

ESPN Deportes: ESPN has acquired domestic Spanish-language rights for SEC basketball on the 24-hour, U.S.-based network.

ESPN FULL COURT: The out-of-market college basketball pay-per-view service, will offer SEC action.

ESPN Classic: The network may telecast select SEC live games as well as historic and immediate encore presentations.

ESPN.com: Extensive SEC content, including highlights, will be presented online.

Women's Basketball

ESPN and ESPN2: SEC teams will make a minimum of 16 appearances on ESPN or ESPN2 and one of the networks will also televise the conference tournament championship game.

ESPNU: The network will also feature a minimum of 16 appearances by SEC teams, in addition to the women's conference tournament semifinals.

ESPN Regional Television: ERT will syndicate a game-of-the-week during the regular season as well as the early rounds of the women's conference tournament.

Olympic Sports

ESPN and ESPN2: A minimum of three regular-season baseball or softball games will be offered on ESPN or ESPN2 as well as three regular-season gymnastics matches. In addition, the conference championships in gymnastics, softball and baseball will be televised.

ESPNU: A minimum of 25 regular-season events annually will be televised, including baseball, softball, volleyball, gymnastics, soccer, swimming and diving, track and field and others. ESPNU will cover all SEC Conference events not on ESPN or ESPN2, including swimming and diving, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field and women's soccer.

ESPN, Inc.

ESPN, Inc., The Worldwide Leader in Sports, is the leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring the broadest portfolio of multimedia sports assets with over 50 business entities. Sports media assets include ESPN (launched in 1979), ESPN on ABC, five additional domestic cable television networks (ESPN2; ESPN Classic; ESPNEWS; ESPN Deportes; ESPNU), ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD and ESPNEWS HD (high-definition simulcast services of ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS, respectively), ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (34 international networks and syndication), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN PPV, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN360.com (Broadband), ESPN Mobile Properties (wireless), ESPN On Demand and ESPN Interactive. Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.

SEC

The Southeastern Conference was formed in 1933 and consists of 12 member institutions: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. The league currently sanctions championship play in nine men's sports and 11 women's sports. Its headquarters has been located in Birmingham, Ala., since 1948. For more on the conference, visit www.secsports.com.





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