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ESPN and ESPN+ Land Rights to Collegiate Sports From Big Sky Conference

Derek Walborn

College level sports streaming continues to grow as ESPN has secured the rights to televise more than 600 Big Sky Conference events in both men’s and women’s sports in a multi-year, multi-platform deal.

The events will be streamed on ESPN+ as well as the ESPN app, beginning with the Big Sky Conference’s Football Kickoff on ESPN+ Monday, July 26.

As part of the deal, ESPNU will televise two football games each year as well as a regular season men’s basketball game. The championship games for both the men’s and women’s basketball conference tournaments are also slated to be carried on ESPN networks.

ESPN top brass are outspokenly smitten by the deal.

ESPN+

ESPN+ is a live TV streaming service that gives access to thousands of live sporting events, original shows like Peyton’s Place, the entire library of 30 for 30, E:60, The Last Dance, as well exclusive written analysis from top ESPN insiders.

The service can be subscribed for $6.99 / month per month or annually for $69.99 / year.

You will get a daily out-of-market game from MLB, and every out-of-market NHL and MLS game with NHL.TV and MLS LIVE.

The service has some of the most attractive soccer coverage including Bundesliga, LaLiga, FA Cup, UEFA Nations League, EFL Championship, EFL Carabao Cup, Eredevise and more.

College sports fans will be able to watch thousands of games and events including football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track & field, gymnastics, swimming & diving, lacrosse, wrestling, volleyball, golf, and more.

For boxing and UFC fans, the service offers Top Rank boxing and will be the home of 15 exclusive UFC events.

ESPN+ now includes exclusive insights from analysts like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay (which used to be part of ESPN Insider), as well as premium Fantasy Tools & PickCenter.

What it does not include is most live sports that air on ESPN and ESPN2.

To get access to those channels you have to subscribe to a live TV streaming service. We suggest reading our guide on How to Watch ESPN without Cable.

Dan Margulis, ESPN senior director, programming and acquisitions., said that “the Big Sky Conference consistently delivers compelling storylines and high-caliber competition across all 16 of its sports, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to further highlight the student-athletes and member institutions as we showcase hundreds of matchups each year across our ESPN platforms.”

Big Sky Commissioner Tom Wistrcill made an equally glowing statement regarding the new arrangement.

“This landmark agreement for the Big Sky and our membership rightfully aligns the nation’s preeminent FCS conference with the strongest media brand in sports,” he said. “We are absolutely thrilled to join the ESPN family and deliver an elevated viewing experience with hundreds of Big Sky contests on ESPN+ each year. In addition, the numerous linear opportunities on ESPN networks now available to us is unprecedented among our peers, and yet another way that we will enhance the brand of the Big Sky.”

While it’s not a terribly surprising piece of news, given the historical relationship between the Big Sky Conference and ESPN going back to Big Sky football being featured on the channel in 1980, it is nonetheless noteworthy as another stepping stone towards live sports fully embracing streaming opportunities as they unshackle themselves from the dusty contractual obligations that have, until recently, largely planted them on cable TV.

The conference includes NCAA Division I member schools in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

The members of the Big Sky Conference include Eastern Washington University, University of Idaho, Idaho State University, University of Montana, Montana State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Northern Colorado, Portland State University, California State University-Sacramento, and Weber State University. Southern Utah University is currently a member of the conference, but will depart for the Western Athletic Conference in 2022.

Disney+

Disney+ is an ad-free video streaming service with over 13,000 series and films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, The Muppets, and more. It is available in 61 countries and 21 languages.

The Disney streaming service costs $7.99 / month, or $79.99 / year ($6.67 / month). You can bundle it with Hulu and ESPN+ for just $13.99 a month (cheaper than Netflix).

The app supports unlimited downloads, four simultaneous streamers, up to 7 profiles, 4K streaming, and includes hundreds of avatars.

The service includes 25+ new original series, 10+ original movies, 7,500 past episodes, 100 recent movies, and 400 library titles including the entire Disney Vault. You can stream original series like “The Mandalorian”, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, “Loki”, and “Monsters at Work.”

You can see the full list of available Disney, Disney Channel, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Nat Geo shows and movies, or all available Disney Plus content by checking out our Disney+ Streaming Movie List.

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Get Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for just $13.99 a month ($8 savings).

ESPN’s deal with the Big Sky will no doubt continue to push up subscriber numbers for ESPN+ — already at 13.8 million as of last month — after experiencing tremendous growth, thanks in part, due to the app’s inclusion in a bundle with Disney+.

The news follows other recent developments between ESPN and major sports organizations as the company has secured rights LaLiga soccer matches and renewed its long-standing contract with Major League Baseball.

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