ESPN issued a press release Wednesday announcing the network reached a 12-year agreement with the SEC and Big 12 to broadcast the Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl won hosting rights to the pairing of its top conference members the SEC and Big 12 agreed to in the summer. This match-up, which begins in the 2014 season coinciding with the new college football playoff, was given the placeholder name the Champions Bowl, before a deal to bring it to New Orleans was struck last week.
Said ESPN President John Skipper:
Given the history of excellence by teams in the SEC and Big 12, we recognized the value in securing long-term rights to the Sugar Bowl…The matchup will provide college football fans with a memorable way to start the New Year on ESPN’s many platforms.
The SEC and Big 12 brokered this guaranteed match-up as a response to the Rose Bowl. Neither the Big Ten nor Pac-12 were willing to sacrifice their stake in the annual match-up, which dates back to 1902. The Sugar via Champions Bowl was established to give highly ranked, non-playoff qualifying teams from the SEC and Big 12 a high profile postseason destination. Were the system in place this season and starting at present, the Sugar Bowl would host Oklahoma and Georgia.
ESPN is solidifying its monopoly on the lucrative, new college football landscape. With the Rose Bowl agreement already en tow through 2026, ESPN boasts two of the focal points to the playoff. Consider these Park Place and Broadway were broadcasting rights the board game “Monopoly.”
FOX began aggressively rebuilding its college football brand in recent years, striking a partnership with the Pac-12 and later the Big 12. Parent company NewsCorp. is a driving force behind the Big Ten Network, and FOX hosts the Big Ten championship. The network has also launched a successful, national broadcast this season in prime time to rival the ESPN/ABC marquee game. The additions of Gus Johnson and Erin Andrews were further investment in establishing a legitimate brand, but ESPN is holding some powerful trump cards. FOX had exclusive broadcast rights to the Bowl Championship Series to 2011, but today has only the Cotton Bowl.
The Cotton Bowl is in the pool for the new playoff. Its deal with FOX expires in 2014.