SBD/Issue 239/Sports Media

Little Big Horns: Univ. Of Texas Exploring Its Own TV Network

Univ. Of Texas Exploring Launching Own
Statewide Sports-Centric TV Network
The Univ. of Texas (UT) is "exploring the viability of a statewide TV channel devoted to Longhorn sports" and could be the "first school to launch its own network as soon as next August," according to Smith & Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The channel "would exclusively carry Texas sports, coaches shows, highlights, interviews, magazine feature shows, replays and an archive of old games." UT and IMG College, the school's multimedia rights partner, "have been in discussions with prospective partners, while also trying to determine how much content it could produce and how widely it might be distributed." UT "has had talks with AT&T, Time Warner Cable [TWC] and Fox Cable Networks, as well as a variety of private equity firms, about partnering on the channel." UT Senior Associate AD Chris Plonsky: "We're not just researching it, we're diligently exploring this opportunity. ... Could it be a linear channel, should we increase the online TV offerings for our Web site? We're looking across all platforms." Smith & Ourand note if they "move forward with a channel, IMG officials will push to be part of a digital basic tier, though they would not say how many homes they would want to be in." For the channel to succeed, it is "critical to get [TWC] on board, since it reaches 1.8 million subscribers, about a quarter of the homes in Texas, and it covers Austin," UT's home. UT could be "one of the few schools that could pull off its own channel because of its immense appeal across the state and its huge base of students and alumni." IMG College Senior VP & Managing Dir Tom Stultz: "This isn't something that works for every school, but Texas is such a huge brand and there are so many households in the state that we need to see if there is a distribution model that works." UT and IMG have "identified between [2,000-3,000] hours of potential programming" and are "exploring Texas' right to run replays of games" broadcast by Big 12 Conference TV partners (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/1 issue).

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