The SEC on CBS has an expiration date.
The conference won’t carry SEC football games after the 2023 season according to the Sports Business Journal. The network’s current $50-million-a-year deal was up for renewal after that season and CBS was outbid. According to SBJ, ESPN and ABC look like the likely home for the conference’s top game of the week starting in 2024.
CBS will walk away from the SEC when its contract ends after the 2023 football season, and all indications are that the package will move to ESPN/ABC. CBS decided to exit the negotiations for college football's most-watched TV package after making an aggressive bid in the neighborhood of $300 million per season — a massive increase from the $55 million it currently pays annually. CBS Sports execs decided that it made more sense to invest the money they would have paid the SEC into other sports. When contacted this afternoon by SBJ, CBS Sports PR emailed the following statement: “We made a strong and responsible bid. While we‘ve had success with the SEC on CBS, we are instead choosing to aggressively focus on other important strategic priorities moving forward.”
College football fans can recite CBS’ catchy college football theme music that preceded SEC games in their heads note by note. The network has been the home of the SEC’s top games since 1996 and was the home of Georgia’s game against Notre Dame this season and myriad LSU-Alabama matchups across the last decade. It also has been the home of the SEC championship game, traditionally the most-watched championship game of the conference title game weekend.
The move to ESPN and its partner channel ABC makes a lot of sense and would turn the conference into entirely an ESPN property on the football side. ESPN has a stake in the SEC Network and CBS is the only non-ESPN affiliated network that currently has the rights to broadcast SEC football games.
The move also benefits the SEC and its member schools. The increased money means each of the 14 schools in the conference will get more money per season. Perhaps by the time that money comes rolling in to those SEC schools the players on those teams will be able to make some side money on their name and image rights as well.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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