row2k Features
40-Sport NCAA-ESPN Deal Will Not Include Rowing
January 30, 2024
Ed Hewitt, row2k.com

The NCAA and ESPN have entered into an eight-year, $920M deal for broadcasting rights for 40 NCAA championships (21 women's and 19 men's events), including expanded coverage of D2 and D3 championships.

The list of sports includes many so-called 'Olympic' sports - with rowing conspicuously missing from the list of sports.

Basketball is the clear moneymaker in the deal, especially the men's D1 basketball tournament, for which ESPN has the international rights - the deal also includes the women's D1 bball tournament. In a release, the NCAA stated that the value of the deal will create opportunities for NCAA members to "explore revenue distribution units for the women's basketball tournament."

Large disparities in the facilities for women's vs. men's basketball were exposed during the 2021 basketball tournament season, with the women's weight room stocked with a few dumbbells and a small pile of yoga mats, while the men had a state of the art facility.

The release emphasizes potential benefits for women's sports in several respects, including increased visibility, and the revenue distribution for women's basketball noted above.

The current NCAA-ESPN deal is worth about $40M per year, while the new deal will bring closer to $115 million per year, an increase of nearly triple, according to the Associated Press.

ESPN, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company, owns eight different US television networks, including the 'big three' ABC network, which itself has a guarantee to air the Football Championship Subdivision national championship football game; ESPN also has streaming platforms. Broadcast outlets for the 40 sports will be spread across television, cable, and streaming platforms, and some may air only on subscription or pay-per-view platforms such as ESPN+.

The full list of championships follows.

  • Men's Championships - soccer, football (FCS, DII & DIII), cross country, water polo, indoor track & field, swimming & diving, wrestling, ice hockey, gymnastics, fencing, volleyball, lacrosse, outdoor track & field, tennis, baseball and basketball (including DII semifinals & DIII semifinals and championship).
  • Women's Championships - soccer, field hockey, volleyball (including DII & DIII), cross country, indoor track & field, swimming & diving, basketball (including DII & DIII), ice hockey, bowling, gymnastics, fencing, beach volleyball, lacrosse, outdoor track & field, tennis, softball and water polo.
  • Also: men's National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and Women's Basketball Invitation Tournament (WBIT); NCAA DI Men's Basketball Championship (international rights).

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