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ABC, CBS ink college gridirons

Members of the College Football Assn. broke ranks Tuesday and signed individual TV deals with ABC and CBS.

ABC Sports signed a five-year deal at a cost estimated at $ 70 million with the Atlantic Coast Conference that will expand the network’s coverage of the ACC to the next century.

ABC has already extended its Big Ten and PAC-10 conference contracts through the end of the decade.

CBS Sports, meanwhile, inked a five-year deal estimated to be worth $ 100 million with the Southeastern Conference for football and basketball and spent at least $ 50 million to land the Big East football conference for five years. CBS also re-upped with the Big East basketball conference at a price tag between $ 10 million and $ 15 million. Both football and basketball are part of the deals that start in 1996.

In years past, the CFA negotiated with the networks for the 63 schools in the association. Now, it’s every conference for itself. Next up for grabs may be the Southwest and Big Eight conferences with ABC the odds-on favorite to sign deals.

For the individual conferences, it’s simply a matter of greater negotiating strength as separate entities than one unit.

CBS’ acquisition will no doubt help offset the loss of NFL football to Fox.

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