ESPN3 Issue Looming Large over the MAAC

The future of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference faces a big issue this week that could have a transformative effect on the league.

That issue, which MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor said they would talk about in league meetings this week, is the MAAC’s expanded package with ESPN3 and the future that it might hold over the conference’s 11 members.

maacQuinnipiac and Marist broadcast their games on the ESPN3 platform, towards the end of last season. While one may have been infamous for a coach getting angry over the broadcast, Ensor said that the league supported the broadcast of that Marist home game against Iona as well as broadcasts from Quinnipiac as part of a “pilot program” to see whether school productions such as these may exist on the ESPN3 platform in the future.

On February 27, ESPN announced that the MAAC would get their own branded channel through WatchESPN, the most popular way to watch events on ESPN3 digitally. Ensor said that one of the issues in this marketing meeting will be how the league feels about airing school productions as part of the conference’s brand and how those productions will compare to the league’s national package.

“I think we’ll come to an equitable arrangement and there are benefits to the entire membership,” Ensor said. “The school puts on a game, the opponent has to be on and perhaps that opponent is one that can’t put on their own school production, so they get the benefit of being on there.”

“I think more and more of the schools will get a production package, ESPN is going to have certain standards to be on 3, to be on the MAAC channel, as far as production standards and that was what we were testing at Marist and Quinnipiac. Marist had a much more ESPN look production, Quinnipiac tried to use some of the video board elements. We’re all testing these waters to see what are those standards, what’s the distribution and how do you make it equitable.”

After going to the Final Four in North Texas, Ensor said he received data on viewership on ESPN3 which said that the average viewership for unique viewers was over 27 minutes, a fact he was very satisfied with.

“This is the first time we’ve had real hard numbers and I was very impressed,” Ensor said. “We’re above the nationwide average for college basketball on digital and on ESPN3 by far.”

However the growing use of ESPN3 may force a divide between schools that favors certain schools whose games may be more accessible on the platform than other schools.

Siena streams their own games and is committed to a package of games on Time Warner Cable. Fairfield aired two home games on SNY, while Quinnpiac aired three home games on SNY.

The growth of ESPN3 might endanger schools that are part of the conference’s digital package MAAC.TV, which is run in affiliation with Neulion and features live streaming for eight of the 11 member schools. Only Siena, Niagara and Quinnipiac do not participate in the service.

When asked about the future of the MAAC.TV product, Ensor said that the service will remain as part of the conference’s “broadcast strategy”, which he emphasized was games on ESPNU, ESPN3 and MAAC.TV.

“We have our second tier digital which is the MAAC.TV and that’s anything else that falls within our sports offerings,” Ensor said. “As ESPN3 grows, I think you’ll see some of that migrate over to ESPN3 because it’s just a better brand and better distributed, but there’s always going to be a place for MAAC.TV because there will be at some point, some limit to what ESPN3 will take on that digital platform. They can easily take eight broadcasts at a time, but at some point you just start cluttering too much into ESPN3’s taste. We’ll see, but I think those three tiers are going to be our strategy as we move forward for the next five to 10 years.”

Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]

7 thoughts on “ESPN3 Issue Looming Large over the MAAC

  1. This article reminds me that there are still 11 members in the MAAC. Any additional discussions as to adding a 12th member? Wagner was vetted pretty extensively two years ago and I would have to think they are still in play. Stony Brook? Bryant?


  2. Signing up for ESPN3 does nothing for the MAAC as far as engaging the casual viewer. You will not see any of these games at a sports bar or to the guy flipping through channels on the couch.

    Since the conference is so NYC centered anyways it would have made much more sense to sign a deal with MSG, SNY or YES. Poor vision by the Commish.


  3. Schools like Iona, Fairfield and Siena should jump out of this conference. Ensor is a joke. The MAAC will soon go the way of the dinosaur.


  4. Ensor is clueless! Look at the move he made to bring the tournament to Springfield. Just when you think the MAAC is about to turn the corner for the better, Ensor is there to sabotage the league. Get rid of this deal and the commissioner!

    Save yourselves!


    1. Mike if you read the Siena board you’ll see that they are aiming much higher than the A10. Now they are talking about the Big East or ACC.


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