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ESPN Signs 8-Year Extension with Sun-Belt

Brandon Contes

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Set to expire following the 2019-20 college season, ESPN and the Sun Belt Conference came to an agreement extending their contract an additional eight years.

“We have enjoyed a long relationship with ESPN since its founding in 1979 and we look forward to being featured on its newest platform, ESPN Plus, which promises to revolutionize how fans of the Sun Belt and all of college sports watch their favorite teams in action,” said Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson.

The ESPN Plus streaming service, which is expected to launch late this month or early April, will play a large role in providing a platform for the Sun Belt Conference. According to ESPN, beginning in the first season of the extension more than 500 Sun Belt events will be broadcast, but only a small percentage of those will air on a traditional television network. A minimum of 10 football games, six men’s basketball games, and the conference championships from all sports are guaranteed to be on linear television.

“We are thrilled to take that relationship to a new level via this new, innovative and exclusive extension, while also deepening our commitment to serving college sports fans. More Sun Belt events and content than ever before will now be available to fans however they choose to consume them in a more personalized and targeted manner,” said ESPN Executive Vice President of Scheduling and Acquisitions Burke Magnus.

The previous contract had ESPN pay Sun Belt Conference schools about $100,000 annually. Terms of the eight-year extension were not released, but according to an Associate Press report, a source stated those payouts will increase in the new deal.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

Curt Menefee to Call Two Seahawks Preseason Games

FOX NFL studio host Curt Menefee will be on the TV play-by-play for the preseason opener on August 13 and the finale on August 26.

Jordan Bondurant

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Curt Menefee

The 2022 NFL preseason is going to kick off in earnest later this week, and the Seattle Seahawks have revealed their broadcast crews for two of the team’s three preseason contests.

FOX NFL studio host Curt Menefee will be on the TV play-by-play for the preseason opener on August 13 and the finale on August 26. He’ll be joined in the booth by former Seahawk Michael Robinson. The games will air locally on KING 5, the city’s NBC affiliate.

Additionally for the TV broadcasts, Paul Silvi and Ray Roberts will host the pre and postgame shows, with former Seahawk Michael Bennett working as an analyst.

On the radio, Steve Raible and Dave Wyman will call all three games. Jen Mueller will be the sideline reporter. Michael Bumpus will be the studio host and will be joined by former players Jordan Babineaux, Paul Moyer, Roberts, Marcus Trufant and Robert Turbin.

Radio broadcasts air on Seattle Sports 710 AM and KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM and are distributed across Washington on the Seahawks Radio Network.

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Sports TV News

After Losing Out On Big Ten Rights, ESPN Turns Focus to NCAA Championships

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024.

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After reportedly losing out on the Big Ten’s television rights, ESPN is reportedly turning to securing the NCAA Championship rights from hitting the open market.

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024. Those 29 championships include everything from Women’s basketball to ice hockey, wrestling, softball, and baseball. The network pays a reported $34 million for the rights to broadcast those championship events.

However, according to a study commissioned by the NCAA reveals that the women’s basketball tournament could be worth anywhere from $81 million to $112 million per year by its lonesome. The NCAA is reportedly considering selling the women’s basketball tournament rights as a standalone product in the next negotiation.

Sources told Front Office Sports ESPN remains interested in striking deals with the Pac-12 and Big 12 media rights, as well as renewing a deal for the College Football Playoff.

The news comes after Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported ESPN declined a final offer from the Big Ten for a portion of the conference’s media rights. The reported deal was seven years and $380 million per year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Announces The Return of Stephen A. Smith to First Take

ESPN announced Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th.

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Stephen A. Smith

First Take has been without it’s anchor since the day after the NBA Draft in June. That’s when the ESPN personality took some time off to undergo shoulder surgery and to rehabilitate. However, it appears the wait for his return is almost over.

ESPN announced with a tweet that Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th. They also teased a guest appearance from Michael Irvin.

This comes a day after Smith tweeted that the countdown was on for his return and we are one week away from the event.

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