SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Fans of Summit League college basketball will have more chances to watch regular-season games on a national sports network as the Sioux Falls-based conference announced a new media rights deal on Thursday.
The new deal came after the Summit League organized a media rights committee for more than 12 months and established four key priorities: expansion of national linear distribution, increased revenue, enhanced fan affinity and experience, and protection of member local/regional relationships.
“This is a historic moment for the League, and these relationships will give fans a better experience to consume Summit League content, with more national exposure on CBS Sports Network and enhanced digital content through Midco,” Summit League Commissioner Josh Fenton said in a news release announcing the deal.
The cost of the three-year media rights deal is not public. The Summit League men’s and women’s basketball tournament championship games will no longer air on ESPN channels.
As part of the deal, CBS Sports Network will televise at least six Summit League regular-season men’s basketball games and has the opportunity to add an additional six men’s or women’s games. CBS Sports Network will also televise the two semifinal games and championship game of the women’s basketball Summit League tournament. On the men’s side, CBS Sports Network will televise the championship game, while Midco Sports will continue to televise the women’s and men’s first round and quarterfinal games for the next three years.
CBS Sports Network will televise both the men’s and women’s championship games in 2025 and 2026 and has the opportunity to televise the men’s and women’s semifinals in those years based on scheduling availability.
“We are excited to begin this partnership with The Summit League,” Dan Weinberg, CBS Sports Executive Vice President said in a news release. “This deal allows us to add live games throughout the regular season to our CBS Sports Network schedule, as well as two automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament with the Men’s and Women’s Championship finals.”
CBS Sports Network has no affiliation with KELOLAND Media Group.
CBS Sports Network can be found through all major cable, satellite, and telco distributors as well as via OTT streaming service providers YouTube TV, fuboTV, DirecTV and Hulu. Additionally, a live CBS Sports Network stream is available through www.cbssports.com and the CBS Sports App by authenticating with select providers.
‘More exposure’ to Summit League
The Summit League tournament, which expanded to a 10-team format in 2023, has been held in Sioux Falls since 2009 and is under contract to stay in Sioux Falls until 2025.
Thomas Lee, the Sioux Falls Sports Authority Executive Director, said the sports authority was not involved in the Summit League’s rights agreement.
“(We) are happy that this new agreement should bring even more exposure to the league and Sioux Falls,” Lee said in an emailed statement.
The Sioux Falls Sports Authority along with Experience Sioux Falls played key roles in bringing the Summit League tournament to Sioux Falls in 2009.
A total of 57,165 people attended 20 games played over five days during March 2023 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, according to numbers released by the Summit League.
The all-time attendance record is 65,533 in 2016 when South Dakota State won the men’s and women’s titles. The South Dakota men reached the semifinals and Coyote women played in the women’s championship that year.
The 2024 tournament is scheduled for Mach 8-12 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
Along with the nine member schools – Denver, University of Missouri-Kansas City, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Omaha, Oral Roberts, St. Thomas, South Dakota and South Dakota State – the Summit League also has six affiliate members for baseball, men’s tennis, men’s soccer and men’s swimming and diving.
Summit League, Midco partner for Summit League Network
In addition to the deal with CBS Sports Network, the Summit League announced it will create the Summit League Network in a partnership with Midco.
The new network is a direct-to-consumer digital network and the exclusive streaming home for live and on-demand coverage of Summit League schools. More than 600 live events are expected to be streamed on the new network.
All Summit League regular season and basketball championship broadcasts produced by Midco Sports will also be available on SLN.
SLN will be home to all home regular-season conference and non-conference games for the sports of volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball. The SLN broadcasts are the responsibility of the home institution, which may be a digital-only telecast or use of an institution’s local TV partner production.
USD athletic director David Herbster said USD was thrilled to see the new investment into the league.
“We were proud to offer home events for free these last several years, but the ability to watch all Summit League games home and away on one platform and at any time will be a huge draw,” Herbster said in a news release. “We are happy to take this next step with Midco.”
Subscriptions for the Summit League Network are $9.99 a month or $79.99 for 12 months. Current Midco Sports Plus customers will see their rate increase in September.
Missouri Valley Football Conference remains partner with ESPN
The Summit League does not offer football as a sport. College football at the FBS-level continues to drive much of the conference changes with NCAA college sports.
Summit League members North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota and South Dakota State compete in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. St. Thomas competes in the Pioneer Football League.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference’s media rights agreement with ESPN is through the 2023 season.