CBS Sports and the Southeastern Conference revealed a landmark 15-year contract extension Thursday that will keep the network broadcasting league football games through 2023.
“The 15 years makes this announcement a blockbuster,” said Mike Aresco, vice president of programming for CBS. “I was talking earlier to Archie Manning, who’s been doing some of our studio shows, and he was quite amazed by the 15 years. He said, ‘That means I’ll be watching my grandchildren play on CBS.’”
CBS has been the primary network for SEC football since 1996.
Aresco said the new agreement takes effect after this season and may be the longest in college athletic history. CBS is now in an 11-year agreement with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, an extension that began in 2003.
Financial terms of the SEC agreement were not announced.
The biggest difference between the new agreement and the current pact is that CBS will no longer have to deal with ESPN for priority picks on football games. CBS currently gets to pick seven of the top 10 games before each season, with ESPN getting the fourth, eighth and 10th selections.
ESPN used its priority picks this year on Auburn-LSU, Alabama-Georgia and Tennessee-South Carolina, but the new agreement will allow CBS to have the first pick every week. CBS will keep using 3:30 p.m. Eastern as its time slot and will continue to broadcast one additional game at noon, one at 8 p.m., one game the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the league title game.
“The Southeastern Conference is extremely pleased to extend its long-standing relationship with CBS Sports,” league commissioner Mike Slive said. “CBS enables the conference to continue its unique full, national network exposure. We have enjoyed working with CBS Sports and are excited about our long-term future.”
CBS experimented last season by televising Alabama-Florida State and Alabama-LSU at 5 p.m., but Aresco said that will never happen again.
The network will continue to broadcast SEC basketball games on a slightly more limited basis. Aresco said his network now averages between 18 to 19 telecasts per season but will show 14 under the new agreement.
In addition, CBS will no longer televise the SEC tournament title game.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...