Fresh off the success of its BCS Megacast for last month's BCS National Championship, ESPN has announced its latest plan to super-serve the college sports market.
On Thursday, ESPN announced plans for 15 new conference networks spanning across Division I. They are, in alphabetical order: ACC, America East, Atlantic Sun, Big South, Big West, Central Intercollegiate Athletic, Horizon, Mid-American, Metro Atlantic Athletic, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Southern, SWAC, Sun Belt and Southland. The Big Ten and Pac-12 already have their own networks, the SEC is in the midst of launching its own and the Big 12 schools individually own their own networks or quasi-networks, which is why they aren't included. But virtually everyone else in Division I is.
Here's the catch, these aren't traditional networks that may be seen on terrestrial television. They'll be streamed through WatchESPN via Apple TV or Roku, which does limit the audience. But, still, if you're the Northeast Conference, this is a boon for you.
“These new conference channels on WatchESPN will showcase the breadth and depth of our college sports coverage,” said ESPN vice president of college sports programming Rosalyn Durant. “But most importantly, they will allow us to better serve the fans.”
Each network will cull together content shown on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, clips and on-demand video from ESPN.com, etc., as well as show live content and replays of previously aired games. The networks will launch today and ramp up to conference tournament season, but expect, for example, football games between Nicholls State and McNeese State to be shown on the ESPN-owned and branded Southland Network this fall.