ESPN Inks 10-Year Ivy League Rights Deal; Majority of Content Will Exclusive to ESPN+

ESPN will carry 1,100+ total Ivy League events per year, including 24 games on linear TV networks

ESPN continues to add to its stable of content ahead of the launch of its ESPN+ OTT service on April 12, agreeing to a comprehensive, 10-year deal to become the exclusive national media rights holder for the Ivy League. Under terms of the deal, which launches for the 2018-19 season, ESPN will carry more than 1,100 events annually from more than 30 sports on ESPN media platforms with the majority of those available exclusively on ESPN+. The Ivy League will also have at least 24 events air on ESPN’s linear networks each year, including the Harvard-Yale football rivalry game, as well as the men’s and women’s basketball conference tournaments.

“With this new agreement, we continue to provide fans with the most diverse content through all our networks and platforms, while also deepening our commitment to college sports,” says ESPN executive vice president of programming and scheduling Burke Magnus. “We are significantly enhancing our existing relationship with The Ivy League, providing the conference, its institutions, and fans the most comprehensive coverage of the league to date across ESPN’s networks and platforms, while also adding specific benefits that are made possible with the launch of ESPN+.”

Beginning with the 2018-19 season, all content currently available on the Ivy League Digital Network will now go behind the ESPN+ subscription paywall, SVG has confirmed. The Ivy League Digital Network launched in 2013 and was among the first direct-to-consumer OTT networks in the college-athletics sector.

Among the highlights of the deal, ESPN platforms will now carry every Ivy League conference-controlled football game with the majority on ESPN+ and six games/year on ESPN linear TV networks). In addition, ESPN will now carry every Ivy League conference-controlled regular season men’s and women’s basketball game (majority on ESPN+) with six regular season men’s and six women’s games, as well as all conference semifinal and championship games on ESPN linear TV neworks.

“We are excited to announce this groundbreaking and comprehensive long-term partnership with ESPN, which will dramatically increase our exposure and reach across the League’s broad-based sports offering,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris says. “This agreement preserves the Ivy League’s place at the forefront of innovation and connects the League with a partner that is driving the convergence of linear and digital sports programming.”

ESPN Further Boots College Content for ESPN+ 
The expanded live content and enhanced fan experience through ESPN+ will also provide more value for Ivy League fans, as they will receive more games and content at a cost less than the current Ivy League Network. For $4.99 a month, subscribers will get the Ivy League Network (1,100+ events and surrounding programming), as well as thousands of more live events including additional college sports, MLB, NHL, MLS games, plus boxing, international rugby, cricket, as well as exclusive original content and an unmatched on-demand library including the entire award-winning 30 for 30 documentary series and more.

Magnus adds, “Even before launching, ESPN+ is already establishing itself as the leading home for direct-to-consumer sports streaming, bringing together existing streaming services and new ESPN content and coverage in a single, affordable product that gives fans anywhere, anytime access to more sports, more games and more original content.”

ESPN+ will be an integrated part of a completely redesigned and reimagined ESPN App that will be the premier all-in-one digital sports platform for fans. With a richer, increasingly more personalized experience, the new ESPN App will curate all of ESPN’s incredible content into an experience unique to each fan’s individual tastes. ESPN+ will also be available through

Breaking Down the Content: 1,100+ Ivy League Events
Starting in the fall of 2018, among the more than 1,100 Ivy League events to be carried on ESPN’s platforms each year will be every conference-controlled football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball game. The agreement also provides increased exposure for the conference’s entire broad-based sports offering, including at least 12 conference postseason events each year. Details include:

  • Football: Every Ivy League conference-controlled game, with the majority exclusively on ESPN+. Six games, including the historic Harvard-Yale game, will air on an ESPN linear network each year.
  • Men’s Basketball: Every Ivy League conference-controlled regular season game available, with the majority exclusively on ESPN+. Six regular season games will air on ESPN linear networks each year. The conference tournament semifinals and championship game will also air on an ESPN linear network each year.
  •  Women’s Basketball: Every Ivy League conference-controlled game, with the majority exclusively on ESPN+. The conference tournament championship game will air on an ESPN linear network each year.
  •  Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey: Every Ivy League conference-controlled regular season game held at an Ivy League institution arena will be available, with the majority exclusively on ESPN+.
  •  Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse: Every Ivy League conference-controlled game, with the majority exclusively on ESPN+. The men’s conference tournament semifinals and championship game will air on an ESPN linear network each year, with the women’s conference tournament semifinals and championship game appearing on ESPN+.
  •  Conference Postseason Events: At least eight additional conference postseason events will be available on ESPN+ each year across the conference’s broad-based sports offering.
  •  Additional Ivy League Sports: A multitude of events in approximately 30 additional sports will be available to fans, with the majority of games on ESPN+. ESPN’s linear networks and ESPN3 will continue to carry select games each year across a variety of sports

Also, highlights from Ivy League football, men’s and women’s basketball, ice hockey and lacrosse league contests will be available on ESPN platforms.

ESPN and The Ivy League’s affiliation dates back more than 30 years, including an extensive relationship through digital sports rights. For the last three seasons, ESPN3 has streamed more than 85 Ivy League events each year, while ESPN’s linear networks have televised the Ivy League men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and men’s lacrosse tournament since inception.

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