ESPN and NCAA Agree to a New Media Rights Agreement for Eight Years




For the media rights to NCAA championship games, ESPN and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have struck a new, eight-year agreement that will take effect on September 1, 2024. The agreement includes international rights to the Division I men's basketball tournament in addition to domestic rights to a record 40 NCAA championships, consisting of 19 men's and 21 women's tournaments.


"We are excited that the strong and cooperative relationship that has existed between ESPN and the NCAA for over 40 years will continue as part of this new, long-term agreement," stated ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. "A record number of championships, including all rounds of numerous major events that we have expanded over time with the NCAA, will only be shown on the ESPN networks and platforms. This historic agreement will support The Walt Disney Company's ongoing expansion, particularly in the vital streaming market, and further solidify our industry-leading dedication to women's sports.


The agreement adds coverage of the Division I men's and women's tennis team championships as well as the national collegiate men's gymnastics championship. It also maintains exclusive coverage of the sports covered by the previous ESPN agreement, including all rounds of major NCAA Championship events (women's basketball, softball, volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, FCS football, and more). Together with worldwide rights to the Division I Men's Basketball Championship, it also includes full rights to the men's and women's National Invitation Tournaments (NIT and WBIT). Men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball championships will also be covered by Division II and Division III on ESPN.


The new broadcast arrangement guarantees the greatest possible outcome for all NCAA championships, especially the women's championships, which Charlie Baker, the president of the NCAA, said the organization has worked diligently to ensure over the past year. "ESP has shown a greater commitment to covering NCAA championships in the last few years, and the Association is happy to keep giving student-athletes a chance to excel. In addition to offering more development possibilities, having a single, multi-platform home for our championships enhances both the audience and student-athlete experience.


The NCAA will look into income distribution units for the women's basketball tournament in light of the new agreement's large value rise. This year, the Division I Board of Directors Finance committee started debating new models and revenue distribution theories; in the upcoming year, membership will be included in those debates.



Linda Livingstone, president of Baylor University and chair of the NCAA Board of Governors, remarked, "Finalizing this agreement ushers in yet another milestone for the NCAA positioning student-athletes first." "Several improvements to student-athlete benefits across all three NCAA divisions will go into effect concurrently with the terms of the new media rights, and this agreement will help fund those significant programs." Additionally, the family of ESPN networks' nationwide integrated platform will contribute to increasing the awareness of numerous NCAA sports, especially for our female student-athletes.


The NCAA's media advisor throughout the media rights talks was Endeavor's IMG and WME Sports.

"This groundbreaking new ESPN deal guarantees the NCAA significant increases in rights fees, investment in production and promotion, original content and storytelling, and multi-platform viewership options with a partner that has proven integral to the growth of its championships and women's sports," stated Hillary Mandel, EVP and Head of Americas for Media at IMG, and Karen Brodkin, EVP and Co-Head of WME Sports. Crucially, it capitalizes on the rising interest and passion of women's sports and gives student-athletes more visibility across a record number of championships—a major priority throughout our extensive review and consulting work with the NCAA.


ESPN's new eight-year contract includes 40 NCAA events, which include:
Men's Championships: gymnastics, fencing, volleyball, lacrosse, outdoor track & field, tennis, baseball, basketball (including DII semifinals & DIII semifinals and championship), cross country, water polo, indoor track & field, swimming & diving, wrestling, ice hockey, and gymnastics.
Women's Championships: field hockey, volleyball (DII & DIII), ice hockey, bowling, gymnastics, fencing, beach volleyball, lacrosse, outdoor track & field, tennis, softball, and water polo; cross country; indoor track & field; swimming & diving; basketball (DII & DIII).
Additionally: NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship (international rights); Men's National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and Women's Basketball Invitation Tournament (WBIT).

ESPN and NCAA's connection is extended by a new arrangement.


The partnership, which dates back 45 years to 1979, the year ESPN debuted as a network, expands upon the already popular NCAA events that ESPN broadcasts every year. The extensive portfolio of ESPN channels, which includes broadcast and cable networks including ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPNEWS in addition to ESPN+, the top sports streaming service in the market, will continue to help NCAA championships.


According to the agreement, ESPN and the NCAA must collaborate to take advantage of as many exposure chances as possible on ABC and ESPN during the term. Every year, ABC is guaranteed to broadcast the national championship game for Division I women's basketball, volleyball, women's gymnastics, and the Football Championship Subdivision. Additional ABC exposure is also promised for the overall softball and baseball finals. A commitment that at least ten of the championships will have selection shows broadcast on linear ESPN networks is also included in the agreement.


Fans will be able to watch select rounds of the NCAA championships only on ESPN+, which offers 24,000 college games annually across more than 20 conferences, so connecting regular season and championship viewing for them. ESPN+ was introduced in April 2018 and has rapidly expanded to over 25 million users. It provides sports fans with access to hundreds of live events, unique programming, and high-quality editorial material.

Over 2,300 hours of championship content will be aired on ESPN's digital and television platforms per year, with over 800 hours of NCAA championship content airing on ESPN's linear networks.

Improved broadcast sponsorship and footage rights for ESPN across its whole portfolio of titles and platforms are also included in the arrangement.




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