Wednesday was a historic day for the America East Conference as it announced national broadcast deals with both ESPN and CBS Sports Network that will significantly increased the mid-major league’s exposure. This season will also mark the first time in conference history that multiple regular-season games will be carried nationally.
The America East signed a new five-year broadcast deal that will significantly increase the league’s number of national appearances on ESPN networks. The agreement will run through the 2015-16 season.
The 2011-12 package will include a minimum of 47 national appearances on ESPN platforms, the most in league history. The deal also includes flexibility that could increase that total in future years.
“For the last 24 years, America East’s collaboration with ESPN has been a key component of extending our reach and strengthening our national brand,” said America East Commissioner Amy Huchthausen. “We are excited to continue this relationship as we look ahead.”
As part of the agreement, the conference’s men’s basketball championship game will air on ESPN2, the 25th straight year the America East title game will air on ESPN or ESPN2. The women’s championship game will be distributed to regional sports networks via ESPN Regional Television and also carried on ESPN3, ESPN’s multi-screen sports network available through an affiliated internet or video provider online via WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE.
For the fifth straight year, ESPNU will televise a men’s regular-season conference game when Stony Brook hosts Boston U. on Jan. 27 in a rematch of last year’s America East Championship game. Additionally 11 regular-season basketball games, four postseason contests and the men’s lacrosse championship game will be carried exclusively on ESPN3.
CBS Sports Network will broadcast five league contests featuring eight America East schools starting in January. America East previously partnered with the Network to televise two men’s lacrosse games in 2010, including the conference championship game.
“We are excited to partner with CBS Sports for the first national television package in league history,” said Huchthausen. “This package will showcase our men’s and women’s basketball teams, student-athletes and institutions to a national audience and expose our brand of basketball to a new generation of America East fans.”
The package kicks off with a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day men’s matchup between defending league champion Boston University and University at Albany on Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. The two teams were picked first and fourth, respectively, in the conference’s preseason poll. Old rivals University of New Hampshire and University of Vermont will meet for the 132nd time in men’s action on Jan. 29 at 12 p.m. The Catamounts will then face Stony Brook University in a get together of the league’s last two men’s regular-season champions on February 12.
The preseason favorite on the women’s side, UMBC, and 2011 league champion, Hartford, will square off on Feb. 19 at Chase Arena in the first-ever nationally televised conference women’s game. The final game of the package will feature University of Maine at Stony Brook in men’s action on the final day of the regular season, February 26.