Big Sky Conference Reaches Multi-Year, Multi-Platform Rights Agreement With ESPN
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."
About the Big Sky Conference
Founded in 1963, the Big Sky Conference is a NCAA Division I conference competing in the Football Championship Subdivision. With 165 teams representing 15 institutions in 16 sports (seven men's, nine women's), the Big Sky prides itself on its "#ExperienceElevated" platform that emphasizes the unique traits and lifelong benefits that the conference and its member institutions provide to around 4,000 student-athletes each year.
The conference has 11 full members (Eastern Washington University; the University of Idaho; Idaho State University; the University of Montana; Montana State University; Northern Arizona University; the University of Northern Colorado; Portland State University; Sacramento State; Southern Utah University; and Weber State University) located in eight states across the western United States, plus two football affiliate members (Cal Poly and UC Davis) and two men's golf affiliate members (Binghamton University and the University of Hartford). Conference members have won 11 NCAA championships, including seven in football by five different members as well as four titles by NAU men's cross country over the past five seasons.
ESPN+ is the industry-leading sports streaming service that offers fans in the U.S. thousands of live sports events, original programming not available on ESPN's linear TV or digital networks and exclusive editorial content from dozens of ESPN writers and reporters. Launched in April 2018, ESPN+ has grown to more than 13.8 million subscribers.
Fans sign up to ESPN+ for just $5.99 a month (or $59.99 per year) at ESPN.com, ESPNplus.com or on the ESPN App (mobile and connected devices). It is also available as part of The Disney Bundle that gives subscribers access to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu for $13.99/month (Hulu w/ads) or $19.99/month (Hulu w/o ads).
ESPNU launched March 4, 2005. The 24-hour college sports television network televises more than 750 live events annually. Action includes a variety of top football and men's and women's basketball games, as well as Olympic sports from 27 Division I conferences. ESPNU is the destination for premier collegiate and high school programming, including elite football, basketball, baseball, softball and lacrosse events. ESPNU, as part of ESPN's wide-ranging agreement with the NCAA, has extensive coverage of NCAA Championship events.