The New C-USA Media Deal Finally Means The End of CUSATV
When news broke yesterday that Conference USA had signed a new five-year media rights deal with CBS Sports and ESPN beginning in the 2023-24 athletic year, one important piece to the story was missing. What would happen to CUSATV?
For years, the conference's subscription streaming video service has always bothered me. Why should anyone have to pay a fee to watch a video stream of a C-USA sporting event that is fed directly from the home team's video board with accompanying radio audio? The feed is usually subpar and often has technical issues for anyone trying to watch the game. In UTEP's defense, their video streams were always better than most other schools. Still, C-USA was stealing money from every sports fan that had to cough up either a $6.95 one-time fee, a $10.95 monthly subscription, or $99.95 yearly pass.
Today, C-USA released all the details of their new media deal and they will be ending CUSATV starting the next athletic year. ESPN+ or ESPN3 will take over digital rights to all men's and women's basketball games that are not picked up by CBS Sports Network. That is significant since 11 men's basketball games and another 15 women's games will be on CUSATV this season. In addition, all Olympic sports (soccer, volleyball, baseball, softball, etc.) will move to ESPN's digital platform.
Fans will still have to pay for ESPN+ in order to watch the Miners. However, as someone who has subscribed to ESPN+ for years, the service is a must-have for any sports fan. ESPN offers a ton of live college sporting events, plus MLB games, soccer, and now every NHL broadcast for its subscribers. They also have some good digital content on their website, which is included. The monthly cost for ESPN+ is less than what CUSA was offering for their subscription service, and many people will bundle it with Disney-Plus and Hulu.
I still do not know what to call October mid-week C-USA football games. CUSAction does not have the same ring to it that MACtion does. Getting rid of Stadium and Facebook is a good thing since now C-USA is only partnering with ESPN and CBS Sports. They also doubled their last media rights deal, which is a big plus for the conference and its members. Remember, UTEP will get to benefit from the exit fees that nine of C-USA's members will pay the league. Three schools (Southern Miss, Old Dominion, and Marshall) left for the Sun Belt and the other six (UTSA, Rice, North Texas, Florida Atlantic, UAB, and Charlotte) will leave for the AAC next summer. That means the Miners, La Tech, Western Kentucky, and Middle Tennessee, and Western Kentucky will profit financially from their departures. The end of CUSATV next year is the icing on the cake for the new-look 10-team Conference USA.