CIAA and HBCU GO unable to reach long-term agreement as season nears

The CIAA and HBCU GO have been hammering out negotiations for a long-term media deal, but the season is around the corner and they are at a standstill.

It appears that a budding long-term media relationship between HBCUGo and the CIAA is a no-go at this time.

Less than one month after announcing a set of five football contests to be broadcast on the emerging platform – including the Nov. 11 CIAA Championship Game – CIAA officials sent an email informing school officials that a long-term deal would not be taking place. 

The email and sources indicate that the parties are still negotiating a deal to broadcast the games this season on a game-by-game basis.

The email, sent on behalf of CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams Thursday, stated the league would not enter into terms with Allen Media Group/HBCO GO due to terms that are “non-negotiable.” Allen Media Group, led by Chairman and CEO Byron Allen, bought HBCU GO in 2022 and broadcast HBCU football and basketball games in the 2022-23 season.

The email indicates HBCU GO was seeking a 10-year deal with the conference and proposed shortening the deal to five years.

“For the past 6 months we have done our best to align the agreement with what was presented and proposed by AMG/HBCU GO back in the Fall for consideration,” the email read. 

Fayetteville State wide receiver looks to catch the ball at the CIAA Championship Game.

The email, as well as sources, indicate that there were discrepancies on the length and terms of the contract. Attempts have been made to reach officials at both the conference and HBCU GO.

“It was a huge opportunity to shift the CIAA media rights platform and exposure for all CIAA sports. We even explored shortening the term to 5 years when they made unexpected shifts from what they originally proposed to the conference,” the statement continued. “Our attorneys have worked diligently to get clarity and understanding to try and move both parties into a position that we could live with for the next 10 years. Unfortunately, as of today, we are at a standstill.” 

McWilliams informed the CIAA Board that it would not be in the league’s best interest to proceed — despite the revenue — if they could not proceed fully.

So what does this mean for the CIAA moving forward?

The email re-confirmed that the ESPN contract for the CIAA Tournament remains intact through 2025 and was separate from the deal with HBCU GO. 

Since being purchased by media mogul Byron Allen, Chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, in 2022, HBCU Go has reached media partnerships with several HBCU conferences. The SWAC was the first conference to join up, giving HBCU GO cable, linear, streaming, broadcast, VOD, and pay-per-view rights. The SIAC has followed suit and the CIAA was set for an agreement called for four regular season football broadcasts and the conference’s championship game to go through HBCU Go.

There is a bit of good news for CIAA fans as they will continue to be able to access their favorite teams via the CIAA Sports Network, which launched in 2018. There will be no paywall for the foreseeable future, however, due to inconsistencies with needs on some conference campuses.

CIAA and HBCU GO unable to reach long-term agreement as season nears
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