The American Athletic Conference will receive $1 billion for its media rights from ESPN over a 12-year agreement with the television network, according to a report by the Sports Business Journal.
If accurate, the conference will receive around four times the amount of money it was making in its previous rights agreement with the network. The new agreement begins in the 2020-21 season and runs through the 2031-32 season.
The report states each AAC school will receive a nearly $5 million bump in annual revenue, up to $6.94 million, from the new deal.
It is unclear how much of a cut WSU, a non-football member of the American, will receive. WSU is currently not receiving a cut of the AAC media rights deal because it was not a member of the conference when the deal was negotiated, so anything the Shockers receive starting in the 2020-21 season will be better than the previous three years.
Also of note in the report, the schools will not be required to sign a grant of rights, which would restrict them from jumping to another conference.
But the part of the reported deal that could affect Shocker fans the most is ESPN’s plan of moving the majority of the American games from television to streaming starting in the 2020-21 season. In the current deal, all 18 of WSU’s conference games were on cable television.
According to the report, a handful of games will remain on cable television channels such as ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. But the majority of the AAC men’s basketball games will be streamed on ESPN+, the network’s subscription-based streaming service.
ESPN+ is different from ESPN3 or WatchESPN, which is included for free with a cable subscription through a company like Cox. ESPN+ is currently available to be streamed for $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.
The Wichita State athletic department and a representative from the American declined to comment on the report.