The Sun Belt and ESPN have agreed to a contract extension through the 2028 spring season and the conference will have a big presence on the network’s new streaming service.
ESPN is launching ESPN+ this spring, which will cost $4.99 per month. ESPN+ will have games that aren’t broadcast on ESPN’s main TV channels — similar to how ESPN3 is set up now — and the streaming service will carry most of the conference’s football and basketball games.
The agreement with the conference means “a minimum” of 10 Sun Belt football games will be televised on ESPN networks each fall with the rest on ESPN+. The Sun Belt’s best ESPN exposure typically comes in October, when the conference plays midweek games.
“The continuation of our agreement with ESPN marks one of the most historic announcements since the Sun Belt’s founding in 1976,” Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson said in a statement. “This is truly an ‘all in’ collaboration with ESPN, the Sun Belt, and our member institutions and the volume and accessibility of our games will have a profound impact on the future of the Sun Belt. 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+, which promises to revolutionize how fans of the Sun Belt and all of college sports watch their favorite teams in action.”
According to the Associated Press, Sun Belt teams will get a raise from their $100,000 annual television payouts they’re currently receiving. No matter the increase, Sun Belt teams will still be at a distinct TV revenue disadvantage to Power Five conferences. Big Ten and SEC teams receive payouts of approximately $40 million per season from their conferences thanks largely to lucrative television contracts.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.