Over on the AAC board (https://csnbbs.com/thread-854735.html), it appears a couple of things have happened.
The Memphis AD, a chair on the committee looking at athletics tv contracts for the conference, has incessantly talked about our next deal being in the $8M-$10M per school range. He has double-downed on that number.
Commissioner Aresco has stated that when he begins negotiations, he will stop talking about the contract. He was asked about the future contract in an interview recently and passed over the question with a non-answer. Take that for what you will.
The open negotiating period begins Feb 2019, which is when the ESPN exclusive period ends, so… it makes sense that negotiations have begun now.
Finally, ESPN is aggressively pursuing live content for ESPN+, their new pay subscription channel. “Aggressively pursuing” means offering relatively lucrative contracts.
For those not in the know, ESPN+ is not ESPN3; it doesn’t come with your cable subscription. ESPN+ is a $4.99 per month streaming subscription. Currently, it primarily carries hockey and MLS.
My thoughts… we end up with a blended deal, where a premier game or two ends up on their main cable network and the rest of the games go to ESPN+. We have secondary (maybe tertiary, but doubt it) rights to CBS Sports. We end up around $9M per school, and I think ESPN arranges our conference champ (or runner up if the champ is in a NY6) an auto bid in a top tier bowl. Aresco has been pushing hard for an auto bid to a big-ish bowl for this conference for some time, i.e. a guaranteed premiere matchup no matter what.