Big Sky Conference reaches media rights deal with ESPN

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Posted at 10:37 AM, Jun 09, 2021

(Editor's note: Big Sky Conference media release)

FARMINGTON, Utah -- The Big Sky Conference and ESPN have announced a new multi-year, multi-platform media rights agreement, adding hundreds of Big Sky live events to ESPN’s college sports portfolio. More than 600 Big Sky events in both men’s and women’s sports will stream on ESPN+ and the ESPN App. ESPNU will televise two football games each year, in addition to one regular season men’s basketball game and the championship games for the Big Sky Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments slated for ESPN networks.

“This landmark agreement for the Big Sky and our membership rightfully aligns the nation’s preeminent FCS conference with the strongest media brand in sports,” Commissioner Tom Wistrcill said. “We are absolutely thrilled to join the ESPN family and deliver an elevated viewing experience with hundreds of Big Sky contests on ESPN+ each year. In addition, the numerous linear opportunities on ESPN networks now available to us is unprecedented among our peers, and yet another way that we will enhance the brand of the Big Sky.”

The first event on ESPN networks as part of the new deal is the Big Sky Conference’s annual Football Kickoff, which will stream live on ESPN+ on Monday, July 26. Big Sky teams have recently been featured on ESPN networks while competing on the national stage, including Eastern Washington and conference champion Weber State in the FCS Playoffs, and the Northern Arizona men’s cross country team claiming its fourth NCAA title in five years, live on ESPNU.

“The Big Sky Conference consistently delivers compelling storylines and high-caliber competition across all 16 of its sports, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to further highlight the student-athletes and member institutions as we showcase hundreds of matchups each year across our ESPN platforms,” said Dan Margulis, ESPN senior director, programming and acquisitions.

The longstanding relationship between the Big Sky Conference and ESPN goes back to ESPN’s formative years, when Big Sky football was featured on the network on October 4, 1980, for Northern Arizona’s homecoming against Idaho State. Since at least 1989, ESPN has annually televised the championship game of the Big Sky Men’s Basketball Tournament.

“Many thanks to our media rights consultant, CSMG, for the deliberate and strategic 18-month-long process on which they led us that resulted in greater exposure and revenue than ever before for our conference,” Wistrcill said. “We will continue to be aggressive about providing high-quality and easily accessible broadcasts for all Big Sky fans.”