Summit League Media Deal a Mixed Bag

The Big Ten finalized media rights contracts with CBS, Fox, and NBC last year that will total more than $8 billion over seven years, making it the most lucrative conference rights deal in the history of college athletics. The Summit League, like most mid-majors, is left to pick up the crumbs and rely on a few hardy fans who follow the other Division I sports not called football.

The Summit League has cobbled together a sports streaming network to cover Summit League sports. Goodbye, Pioneer Vision (except for gymnastics and lacrosse). Hello, Summit League Network (SLN). Summit League Commissioner, Josh Fenton, made this a stated goal early on in his still-young tenure. The new hybrid approach will offer a limited number of basketball games on CBS Sports Network with other athletic contests hosted on MIDCO Sports Plus – the newly named Summit League Network (SLN), a structure similar to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s media distribution model (you’ll remember that Fenton was the NCHC commissioner until he left to take the same job with the summit). Midco (known as Mid-continent Communications until 2016) is a regional cable provider for both North Dakota and South Dakota, along with much of Minnesota, and several communities in Kansas and Wisconsin. Midco is headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D., home to the Summit League.

CBS Sports Network will televise at least six Summit League regular-season men’s basketball games with an opportunity to add an additional six men’s or women’s games. In addition to the regular season coverage, CBS Sports Network will televise select games during the 2024 Summit League Basketball Championships. The Women’s Championship semifinals and final, along with the Men’s Championship final will air on CBS Sports Network in the traditional tournament slots. The schedule of regular season contests to air on CBS Sports Network will be released in the fall.

SLN broadcasts will cover all home regular-season conference and non-conference games for the sports of volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, and baseball. Unfortunately, no other sports outside basketball made the CBS Sports playlist. In DU’s case, both men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball would have benefitted from national exposure but, alas, CBSSN did not see the value in carrying those sports to a nationwide audience. The CBSSN focus rests solely on basketball, a sport Denver has struggled to develop.

Just like, production for SLN broadcasts will be the responsibility of each home institution and may include a digital-only telecast or the use of an institution’s local TV partner (i.e., Altitude TV in Denver) production equipment/personnel. The issue here, much like for hockey, will be the inconsistent production quality from program to program across the conference.

If there is a major benefit to all games being carried, fans will no longer be limited to just tracking live stats during games instead of watching or listening to actual video and audio for game status. While this overall deal is a major plus, listening to regional broadcasters mutilate the name of Touko Tainamo (and others) will remind us that this is not the big show, either. At least we can catch home and road games all season long – a significant improvement.

Subscribers will have to sign up at for $9.99 a month or $79.99 for 12 months. Summit League fans will receive more than 600 live Summit League events to be streamed through SLN on the Midco Sports Plus app each year. While we would gladly accept a slice of the $1.1 billion dollar Big 10 media deal, for the hardcore sports fan, having access to all DU basketball games, soccer games, and volleyball is a significant improvement over the past.

5 thoughts on “Summit League Media Deal a Mixed Bag”

  1. We’ll take it, although I wish the Summit League would have gone to an ESPN+ streaming model, where our games could be picked up by ESPN subscribers all over the country without paying for yet another dedicated streaming network. Between NCHC-TV, Summit League Network and Pioneer Vision, it’s getting expensive to follow the Pios. It would be cool if DU could find a way to offer its fans all three streaming networks for a single, bundled price…

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