ESPN, BCS agree to four-year deal for television, radio, digital rights

The Bowl Championship Series is coming to ESPN starting in January 2011 (following the 2010 regular season).

ESPN and the BCS announced the deal on Tuesday. It includes exclusive television, radio, digital, international and marketing rights for the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls from 2011-2014 and the BCS title game from 2011 to 2013.

The Rose Bowl will continue to be televised on ABC through 2014 under a separate, previous contract. The Rose Bowl is also slated to host the 2014 title game.

ESPN is currently available in 98 million American homes. The current BCS deal with Fox Sports expires after the 2010 games.

This means the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls, plus the BCS Championship Game, will be televised in prime time each January. The schedule has not been released. There will also be a BCS show on ESPN every Sunday to unveil the current rankings.

The new deal shuts the chance of the Cotton Bowl becoming a BCS bowl until 2015 at the earliest. Cotton Bowl president Rick Baker told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he was not surprised by the new deal, and understood why his bowl was out of the mix for now.

In the meantime, the Cotton Bowl will move to the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium in
2010, giving BCS officials a chance to observe the bowl operate in a state-of-the-art facility before the next deal is negotiated.

The games will also be carried on ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes Radio. Digital Media rights include operation of the official BCS Web site and the opportunity to simulcast the games online at ESPN360.com and on ESPN Mobile TV for mobile devices.

ESPN International will distribute and televise the BCS matchups around the world through networks and syndication, including on the re-branded ESPN America in Europe (known as NASN until Feb. 2009). In addition, ESPN has the right to televise BCS games on ESPN Deportes, the U.S. Spanish-language sports network.

"The BCS will thrive on ESPN," ESPN president George Bodenheimer said. "Our slogan is 'College Football Lives Here' and the BCS will now top college football's best regular-season and studio coverage, the sport's top awards shows, Bowl Week and other national championships all carried on
our family of networks. This is a proud day for ESPN and an exceptional day for this great
sport and its passionate fans."

"We are tremendously pleased to reach an agreement with ESPN and feel
that the BCS games from 2011 to '14 will be in good hands," said BCS commissioner John Swofford, who is also the commissioner of the ACC. "With the continued growth of
technology and the depth of coverage that ESPN gives to the college football fan on all its
platforms during the regular season, this postseason partnership is a natural fit."

ESPN is available in just over 98 million U.S. homes, which is 86 percent of all households with televisions, according to Nielsen. Swofford expects that number to grow by 2011. Of the people who watched the BCS title game on Fox last season, 95 percent had cable or satellite, ESPN said.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report