This coming from Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press. Citing two sources familiar with the deal, the AP reports that the conference is getting closer to working out a six year contract with NBC Sports Network. According to the report, NBC Sports Network would pay in the neighborhood of $20 million per year.
ESPN has the right to match, but it appears that the deal with NBC Sports Network will be announced within the next couple of weeks.
In addition, conference games can be outsourced to other networks.
The Big East has been heritage programming for ESPN dating back to its infancy. The Big East was a made-for-TV league and signed with ESPN in 1980, just a year into the network’s existence. Together, they grew as ESPN grew more influential in college sports. The Big East grew from a basketball-only league to expand to football.
But over the last three years, the league has seen upheaval as the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten have poached the conference making it an entity that is barely surviving.
Commissioner Mike Aresco is dealing with the impending departure of Rutgers to the Big Ten; Syracuse, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame going to the ACC and the “Catholic 7″ to its own conference. The Big East is poaching Conference USA to stay afloat and hoping to invite one other school to create a conference championship game.
One can trace the upheaval to when the Big East turned down an offer from ESPN that would have paid member schools $11 million per year.
We’ll continue to follow the story.