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More MACtion? MAC, ESPN expected to reopen media rights deal

Northern Illinois won the MAC last season and made it to the Orange Bowl. (USATSI)
Northern Illinois won the MAC last season and made it to the Orange Bowl. (USATSI)

More #MACtion?

The Mid-American Conference -- fresh off a Bowl Championship Series appearance -- and ESPN are expected to reopen media rights talks at the halfway point of an eight-year deal running to 2016-17, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

Though it's premature to outline potential new terms, ESPN is amenable to a possible restructure as a good business practice with its midweek football partner.

The MAC's eight-year contract with ESPN is worth roughly $1 million per year, according to a league source. Split among 13 schools, that's less than $100,000 per school. Obviously the MAC would like to increase that total.

ESPN values the MAC's midweek appearances. The MAC is scheduled to play 11 Tuesday or Wednesday games on ESPN in 2013, plus the league title game.

Most midweek MAC games last season games had a TV rating of between 0.4 and 0.5, according to Sportsmediawatch.com, which isn't on par with power-conference numbers but enough for a handful of top-200 college football performances on the season.

MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher declined comment on the potential restructure when reached by phone.

Northern Illinois was the first MAC team to qualify for a BCS bowl, while Kent State finished the regular season in the BCS top 25.


Jeremy Fowler is a national college football insider with CBSSports.com. Fowler joined CBS in 2012 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for two seasons and covering the Florida Gators for the Orlando Sentinel for two years. Fowler is also a contributor to the CBS Sports Network.
 
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