Big Ten has new 10-year deal with ESPN, ABC

Updated: June 22, 2006, 3:18 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

ESPN and ABC Sports will continue to broadcast Big Ten football, men's and women's basketball and volleyball games for 10 years starting in 2007 -- and the conference will create its own cable channel to show even more games nationally.

The agreement was announced Wednesday by the Big Ten office.

"This agreement, among the most expansive ever, reinforces our position as the No. 1 college sports destination and serves the ever-evolving appetites of fans by providing premier Big Ten action through traditional outlets like ABC and ESPN and emerging entities such as Mobile ESPN and ESPN360," George Bodenheimer, president of ABC Sports and ESPN Inc., said in a statement.

ABC and ESPN will carry up to 42 Big Ten football games (up to 17 on ABC; up to 25 on ESPN). ESPN or ESPN2 will televise Big Ten games to markets ABC isn't showing the game in, according to the deal.

ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will carry up to 59 men's basketball games each season, including games on Tuesday and Thursday nights during the conference season, the conference said.

ESPN and ABC Sports will show more than 110 Big Ten events each year on a variety of media platforms, including ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN International and digital platforms like ESPN360, Mobile ESPN, ESPN.com and ESPN Video on Demand.

ESPN360 will carry live women's basketball and volleyball games in addition to the 12 events a year on ESPN and ESPN2. There will also be highlights and live event simulcasts of specific games on ESPN.com and Mobile ESPN, plus replays on ESPN Classic.

The Big Ten Channel will be available to satellite and cable distributors nationwide and also will be available through the Internet, i-Pods, cell phones and other technologies, the league said.

DirecTV will offer the channel on its Total Choice package, which currently reaches about 15.4 million households, according to the news release.

"The Big Ten Channel will provide our conference the ability to strengthen both its brand and its long-term destiny as one of the leading academic and athletic conferences in the nation," said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany.

The new cable channel will carry not only football and basketball, but also such sports as soccer, tennis, swimming and diving and wrestling -- the so-called Olympic sports, the conference said.

Big Ten action has been featured on ABC since 1966 and on ESPN since 1979, the network's first year.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report