SBD/Issue 175/Sports Media

Versus Sublicenses Ten College Football Games

Versus signed a multi-year deal to sublicense ten Pac-10 and Big 12 football games from FSN. Deal terms will have Versus telecast five games from each conference, including the marquee Cal-Stanford Pac-10 matchup on December 1. Other Pac-10 games will include BYU-UCLA (September 8) and Stanford-USC (October 6), with two other games being selected during the season. Versus will telecast Iowa-Iowa State (September 15).  Four other Big 12 games will be selected later in the year. Versus will handle the production for each of these games. It has not decided on the on-air talent it will use.

FUELING DISTRIBUTION: These conferences operate in several markets, like L.A., Arizona and Iowa, where the network is looking to add distribution. It currently is in about 72 million homes and will not make these games available to any over-the-air broadcasters in the local markets. "We are on a path to grow to 80-90 million homes," said Versus President Gavin Harvey. "We continue to be in a growth mode. We really like college sports a lot."  The deal makes a good fit for the channel, given its affiliation with the Mountain West Conference's channel The mtn. Comcast owns Versus and part of The mtn, and Versus telecasts several Mountain West football games per year. "When you get the opportunity to jump on the Pac-10 and Big 12, you jump on it," said Versus Senior VP/Programming & Production Marc Fein.

TURNER: Turner Sports previously carried these games, but its five-year sublicense arrangement with FSN ended after last season when Turner opted not to renew. Though it has no college football games on its schedule, Turner hasn't completely turned away from the sport."If a premium college football package were to become available, and it fits within our financial model, we would certainly consider it," said Turner Sports President David Levy.

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