ESPN to Keep Big East After Reportedly Matching NBC Bid


Delivering a major blow to the struggling NBC Sports Network, ESPN has reportedly matched NBC’s bid for Big East television rights.

ESPN has agreed to match NBC Sports’ multi-year bid for Big East television rights and is now “finalizing” a seven-year agreement with the conference, Sports Business Daily and reported Thursday. Under the deal, which would last through the 2019-20 school year, ESPN would pay the Big East $10 million for 2013-14 (basketball only) and then $20 million/year starting in 2014-15 (football and basketball).

ESPN originally offered the Big East a $130 million/year deal in 2011. The conference rejected the deal.

The new ESPN deal still has to be approved by the conference presidents. A vote could take place as early this weekend, according to the report.

Under NBC’s bid, games would have aired on both NBC Sports Network and the NBC broadcast network. According to the Sports Business Daily report, ESPN is “not likely” to put any games on ABC, but would sublicense a “significant” number of games to other networks.

Keep in mind CBS is expected to continue airing Big East basketball games under a separate deal.

The Big East would have provided NBC Sports Network with much-needed live sports content. From November 26 to February 10, only sixteen programs on NBCSN have drawn even 200,000 viewers.

(Thursday’s news from Sports Business Daily,

  • Marlon 1990s- current NBA fan

    NBC is not very serious about building a legitimate sports network to compete with ESPN. First of all the NBC offer was laughable because that’s chump change to ESPN. You have to realize if u want broadcast rights you must pay up and it looks like NBC tried the cheap way out with only 2mill a year per school which is a slap in the face if you ask me.

  • Marlon 1990s- current NBA fan

    I believe ESPN waited until the very last day on purpose to embarrass NBCSN. NBCSN will never be able to compete with ESPN just because they have lots of money and the only sports NBC is willing to pay big for is the Olympics, EPL soccer and the NFL. ESPN understands that having every major American sport that they can’t be touched and NBC will never get to that point because they are too scared to open up the check book

  • Marlon 1990s- current NBA fan

    America loves football, basketball and baseball. NBCSN has none of those and no college conference that will get viewers like ESPN. Comcast has totally failed NBC Sports in acquiring major sports rights. Fox is the undisputed #2 to ESPN not NBCSN. Even though ESPN helped them to it by shutting out NBC every chance they got. I was rooting for NBCSN but they disappointed me when they couldn’t even get the lowly Big East.

  • Marlon 1990s- current NBA fan

    Maybe Comcast should bring back Dick Ebersol to help those new NBC Sports Group people learn how to bid and outbid foes like ESPN and Fox because this new regime has shown they can’t even breath the same air as ESPN when it comes to sports rights. When the NBA goes up for bid in a couple years NBC should not even come to the table because we all know they’re not serious. They seem too idioticly satisfied with hockey and the Olympics. Man what a joke. How do you let the Big East slip away when you were the most aggressive bidder. NBC could have gained traction with ESPNa little bit but they win once again. NBCSN just rodent know the average sports fan like they claim to.

  • BIG ED

    Chance ESPN matches C7 offer from FOX?

    • Paulsen

      It seems to me that ESPN has already conceded the Catholic 7 to FOX. Here’s what John Skipper told this week: “We are not in a first-position here. It’s clear that Fox has established a relationship. I can’t tell you that they will get a deal
      done but I think they will, and then we will be interested in sub-licensing.”

      But you never know, maybe they’ll swoop in at the last minute.

  • Marlon 1990s- current NBA fan

    Comcast must love getting beat like a drum by ESPN. The Big East will be buried by ESPN whether they got the rights or not. They only matched to keep it away from NBC. The Big East is stupid if ESPN only matched the money but not the coverage. NBC would have made the BE a prime priority. Good look on ESPNU & ESPN3.COM instead of NBC on a Saturday night. What a joke.

  • Marlon 1990s- current NBA fan

    NBCSN is basically still the Outdoor Life Network with a new bottom line and graphics. They have absolutely nothing that comes even close to ESPN or FOX. The Comcast/NBC executives are completely failing and embarrassing NBC Sports. You can make a case that top people at ESPN and FOX were a little scared of a Dick Ebersol because he knew how to make necessary moves in sports dealings. I guess that you get what you pay for and the only thing NBC wants to pay for is English soccer the Olympics Hockey and the NFL in which NBCSN dosent have and probably wont get for Thursday nights because they’ve shown to be bad and cheap poker players. To not even get the BE is a true joke.

  • Marlon 1990s- current NBA fan

    NBCSN needs to get rid of all the junk fishing and hunting programming and just become an ESPN knock off and just show sports highlights and news all day with “the lights”. More viewers will flock to them like ESPN. NBCSN has to at least try harder to appeal to the American sports fan. Its no shame in copying someone else if it works.

  • Marlon 1990s- current NBA fan

    ABC Sports was destroyed by ESPN along with Roone Arlidge’s Legacy.They’ll probably try and teach the BE a lesson for not taking the first offer by making them a last.priority compared to other conferences. Promotion and production has to stand for something and ESPN has a history of not being at its best at doing that. I’d rather see my sports on NBC or CBS sports production rather than ESPN ON ABC which is absolutely tacky. College football is not the same anymore on Saturdays on ABC when it was Keith Jackson and ABC Sports not this ESPN branding nonsense. CBS. and NBC are the last standards

  • Chris Buda

    I think ESPN is going to sublicense a bunch of games to Fox here because of their current working relationship, I read that ABC won’t be used and they could be sending a lot of football and basketball game to Fox and Fox Sports 1 because ESPN want’s to sublicense Catholic 7 games from Fox Sports, so I think ESPN matching NBC Sports Network offer will mean good for Fox to get a bunch of Big East games on Saturday and ESPN will continue having some big east games

  • Marlon 1990s- current NBA fan

    That Fox ESPN unholy alliance wont last for long. That may work for college but when it comes to the pros it’s a whole new deal. Remember what goes around comes around and one of these next few years NBCSN is going to to shock both ESPN and FOX on a major broadcast deal with somebody like the NBA or BIG 10. NBC will realize what they have to do to gain a major contract maybe that Thursday night NFL package will go up for bid in a year or two