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NCAA women’s basketball tournament valued at $65 million in new deal with ESPN

(C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

The NCAA has signed a new 8-year, $920 million dollar media rights deal with ESPN for 40 of its NCAA championships, Front Office Sports reported on Thursday.

The deal includes the women’s March Madness tournament, which through the deal is valued at $65 million. The average payout of the deal per year sits at $115 million. That triples the price of the current package, which averages $34 million a year for 29 championships. It also rectifies the undervaluation of the women’s NCAA tournament, which was at the heart of a gender inequity report.

Working with the NCAA on the deal was Endeavor’s IMG and WME Sports.

While the number is under the estimated $81-$112 million valuation floated around about the women’s basketball tournament, it reportedly reflects the status of the market when it came time for negotiations. Karen Brodkin, EVP and Co-Head of WME Sports, noted that the market “is not like we’ve ever seen before.”

The valuation wound up being three times the previous deal, whereas other leagues have recently only gotten 1.2 or 1.3 times their valuation in recent deals. And opting to have the women’s basketball tournament remain bundled with other championships was in part to help out other, less popular championships.

“I wanted the best deal for everybody,” NCAA president Charlie Baker said.

While other networks were involved, the NCAA only spoke to ESPN during its exclusive negotiating window. Baker said that while Endeavor spoke with other networks, those conversations were “kind of all over the place.”

The deal will begin on Sept. 1 and end in 2032, corresponding with the end of the men’s tournament deal with CBS and Warner Bros. Discovery.

“We didn’t do a renewal,” EVP and Head of the Americas for Media at IMG, Hillary Mandel, told FOS. “This is a reset.”

In addition to adding 11 championships, ESPN has also committed to more investment in storytelling in the style of long-form, documentary-esque content.