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Conference USA announced a media rights deal Wednesday that will put an additional $200,000 per year in member schools' coffers, according to sources familiar with the deal.
The agreement bets heavily on CBS Sports Network and Facebook as the league's primary means of exposure over the next five years.
Though the league did not announce how much it will receive in rights fees, league sources said it is an increase from $200,000 to $400,000 per school.
The current two-year deal, which expires June 30, was a steep decline from the $1.1 million schools had received.
Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig said only that the increase is "significant."
"No doubt it's a step forward, and it's a step forward financially," he said.
The current deal was a patchwork of agreements with CBS Sports Network, ESPN, the American Sports Network and BeIn Sports. ASN morphed into Stadium, a multi-platform network that takes on a larger role in the agreement announced Wednesday.
Stadium will broadcast 15 football games and 21 men's basketball games, including the C-USA tournament quarterfinals. Seven of the football and 10 of the basketball games will be carried exclusively on Facebook. Stadium will continue to produce C-USA games for its website and app.
League spokesman Tim McNamara said the league is talking to ESPN about continuing its partnership. A deal with BeIn Sports runs another year.
ESPN carried a handful of football games and the league championship, but C-USA's primary exposure through the network has been via streaming on ESPN3.
Schools handle the production costs for those games and receive a small rights fee. Selig said schools are producing the games anyway, so the costs are already being incurred.
CBS Sports will be the league's primary rights-holder. It has a reach of 60 million homes, compared to 89 million for ESPN. In Hampton Roads, the network is available on Cox Cable, but only as part of an upgraded package.
"While exploring our options for future exposure, continuing our tremendous relationship with CBS Sports was a priority given our history," C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said in a news release.
The network will broadcast nine football games per year plus the C-USA championship game as well as eight men's basketball games and the tournament semifinals and final, plus the women's championship.
An additional three football games and six basketball games per year will be carried on Facebook.
MacLeod said C-USA will "continue pioneering fresh and innovative ways to deliver our diverse audience a multitude of viewing options on emerging platforms."
Selig called Facebook "a huge potential audience." And he said that a potentially overlooked part of the deal is that CBS and Stadium will bear production costs.
"A league might say they have a $10 million deal with ESPN," he said. "What they don't tell you is $9 million is sent back to ESPN in production costs. So they actually have a $1 million deal with ESPN."
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