AAC upcoming TV deal will have huge ramifications for UConn, league

Then there’s this: the ACC, SEC and other Power Five leagues are locked into TV deals for the foreseeable future. The American may be the only high-level league due for a new deal over the next five or six years.

“We know we’ve got value,” Aresco continued, “now we’re just trying to realize it. I think we have a good understanding of what it might be worth, how our product might be used. We’re looking for multiples of what we got before. If a deal had been negotiated five years ago with this conference, it would have been a different story. And, the world has changed. ESPN still values a good product, and I wouldn’t think they’d want to turn away a valuable product.”

Aresco had had a number of productive conversations with former ESPN president John Skipper before Skipper abruptly resigned in December. He has had phone conversations with Pitaro, who replaced Skipper in March, but nothing formal yet.

The league is hoping to have serious discussions with Pitaro as soon as later this summer or in early fall. Perhaps the league could renew its relationship with ESPN before then and restructure the final year of the current deal.

“We need to get paid for what we’ve done,” Aresco said. “It’s going to be an interesting negotiation. A lot of different platforms are interested in our product. We love ESPN, so we hope we can get something done.”

If nothing is worked out by the end of February, 2019, the AAC can negotiate with other parties. It wouldn’t be able to agree to a deal for less than what ESPN turned down.

Either way, the ramifications for the American Conference’s new TV deal are nothing short of massive.

“I don’t want to say make-or-break,” said Aresco, “but it’s just about that important.”

Veeerrrrrryy interesting!

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Of course it’s make or break, if Aresco can’t secure a payout that at least puts us closer to P5 money then the whole P6 marketing is useless, and he might as well just call the AAC, “The wait and see on expansion conference.”

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These are going to be some dicey negotiations. Every team in the AAC wants to jump ship to a P5 so there’ll be some language trying to limit the cost to get out of the media deal but that will lower the value of the contract. A catch 22 indeed.


ESPN will look at all options including coercing a P5 to expand by taking AAC teams if it means they’ll pay out less. No doubt they’ve been crunching those numbers for years as it directly led to the B12 not expanding.

Now that the AAC has improved it could make financial sense for them to tell the B12 to reverse that course, snag 2 AAC teams, give the B12 some extra money and then low ball the AAC making sure the drop in payout is larger than the B12 increase.

If so, I hope to God the AAC lawyers the hell up and sues everyone in sight…that’s really the only option left then.

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I can’t see that honestly. There no way it’s more profitable to be on the hook for several more million to each school as well tripling+ the pair of two schools. Especially, since it’s highly doubtful that the AAC is really going to approach current or future P5 pairs.

Wonder if it will be similar to what was in the last deal; two tiers of schools with the wording specifying what happens if those schools leave.

But, you’re correct in schools trying to leave. USF’s new AD was specifically brought in to move them to a P5 and their press release and press conference said as much. Can’t help Aresco’s position when they blatantly say that so close to negotiations.

The networks have Areso and the AAC by the balls, and they know it !!


I think if the conference is seeking a long term deal that dwarfs the current one, ESPN would be deranged to not have some sort of opt out or smaller payout. For example, 5 years $120m per year. (with Wichita State and Navy splitting one share) If any all sport school were to leave for a P5 conference, it would be easy to assume it would be one of the higher revenue schools with more viewership, so the deal becomes $100m. The conference would agree to this by having the school that leaves pay the additional $10m a year share that was removed from the total.

If schools like UH and Cincy refuse to sign a buyout deal, then it would be wrong to blame Aresco if he can’t extract full value of the AAC from ESPN because he can’t guarantee full value to ESPN over the length of the contract.


That’s the point! Why would ESPN pay $76 extra to the Big 12 to add 2 current AAC teams, when even with a new contract, would be paying at most 1/3 for the 2 teams?

ESPN will only force/support any P5 into taking any G5 schools if ESPN has serious reasons for doing so. Unless a new entrant is looking to strike a deal with AAC, I don’t see why ESPN would allow any P5 to take even the most valuable AAC programs.

Of course, the question is, what is Fox willing to offer in February 2019? What if Fox pitches an AAC game of the week on Fox, with other conference games on Fox Sports 1. Then non conference could vary some. Just spit balling here not sure how many games that is or slots Fox has for it but might be an interesting project to figure out.

Part of what we’ve been missing in the ESPN deal is a marketing push from ESPN. I remember how we had a Thursday night game once last year and there was virtually nothing promoting it on social media from ESPN even on their college football twitter. It was like they didn’t even want people to tune in. I’m sure they didn’t push it very hard on the network either.

This is the most important football/basketball season in AAC history. We are either going to get a deal done with ESPN this year or go to the open market next February.

A strong conference showing this year will hopefully help Aresco negotiate a higher payout and get us an early deal done with ESPN this year.

Combined with our demonstrated record over the past 5 years, ESPN knows the conference is underpaid and should want to protect its interests in the AAC.

But if an ESPN deal doesn’t come through, a strong conference showing will be critical for us when we go to the open market next February.

Either way, with TV deals overshadowing the season, the conference MUST NOT flop this year. We need multiple ranked AAC teams, whose only loss is to our Coogs.

Looking at our schedule (through my admittedly Coog-colored glasses), I see us going 11-1, winning the conference championship, and a trip to the NY6 Bowl as the AAC representative.


I must also have those glasses. As long as we do not lose to Memphis, the 1 loss scenario works for me.

I’ll add that donations and putting butts in seats, regardless of the conditions, will be just as important as winning.



ESPN exclusive window closes March 2nd.

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I don’t see how ESPN can justify these huge payouts the way they are losing subscribers.

Because ESPN is losing subscribers on cable/satelite platforms but getting them back on web based services such as Sling/YouTube/PSVue. ESPN has the College Football market locked down. This also makes their ad prices very expensive, especially during bowl season.
I really expect ESPN to offer the AAC a contract similar to what ESPN offered the Big East before it broke apart. Somewhere around 13 million a year per team.

No way ESPN allows the AAC to wall away and join NBC or one of the other networks.


You don’t think they’ll be happy to replace us with Conference USA content? :joy:

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At 13 million? Yeah they’d walk away from the AAC. The AAC didn’t have that kind of leverage or options.

No because CUSA content makes people turn off the tv, and a blank screen doesn’t show commercials. ESPN doesn’t make a dollar for every second of live sports you see, any more than a news channel makes money by telling you the news. They both make money by selling advertising space and they will do or say anything to keep you around long enough to watch the ads.

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The big east was way more appealing than the AAC is and espn walked away. ESPN knows amazon and nbc and whoever else won’t be paying the AAC $13 million a school.

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