ESPN extends long-running deal with Big South Conference

US sports broadcaster ESPN has struck a multi-year extension to its rights deal with college sports organisation the Big South Conference.

The extension expands on the original agreement, which was set to expire after the 2018-19 season. Starting from 2018-19, the new deal makes ESPN the exclusive rights holder of the conference and greatly increases the Big South’s presence on its platforms.

The Big South and its 11 member institutions will now have more than 900 conference events on direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service ESPN+. Select conference events will also continue to be televised on ESPN’s linear networks, including the men’s basketball conference championship game, and streamed via ESPN3.

Beginning later this year and continuing through the length of the deal, every conference-controlled American football and men’s and women’s basketball game will be available on an ESPN platform, with the significant majority of those being carried on ESPN+.

Numerous Big South sports will see increased exposure on ESPN+, including men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and lacrosse, baseball and softball, with a variety of these sports’ conference championship games streaming on ESPN+. The men’s basketball championship will continue to be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.

In addition to the men’s basketball championship, at least four regular season men’s basketball games will air on ESPN’s linear television networks. Additional conference games will air on ESPN’s linear networks and be streamed on ESPN3.

As a result of the new extension, ESPN and the Big South will continue a relationship which began in 1991. When this latest agreement expires, ESPN will have carried Big South games for more than 30 years.

Big South commissioner Kyle Kallander said: “For 27 years ESPN has carried compelling Big South content, and for 27 years the Big South has been a willing partner for the company’s latest innovation — whether it was ESPNU, ESPN3, or now ESPN+.

“We have benefited tremendously from ESPN’s leadership in the media landscape, and are thrilled to provide seven more years of comprehensive exposure for Big South student-athletes and member institutions.”