SBD/Issue 133/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Ohio State Inks Marketing, Media Rights Deal With IMG College

Ohio State Inks 10-Year, $110M
Media Rights Deal With IMG College
Ohio State Univ. (OSU) has "awarded its marketing and media rights to IMG College for a guaranteed $110[M] over 10 years, making it the richest annual rights fee ever given to a university," according to Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. In the past 17 months, IMG College has "put itself on the hook for more than $700[M] in rights fees, through either new deals or renewals." Among those are new contracts with Oregon, Florida, Gonzaga and Connecticut and renewed deals with Michigan, Nebraska and Tennessee. OSU previously "managed its media and marketing rights in-house, but this new agreement will transfer those rights to IMG College beginning July 1." Four OSU employees in the marketing and sales department are "expected to go to work for IMG." IMG's "guarantee is even more robust considering that there are practically no TV rights included in the deal, except for coaches' shows." OSU's local TV rights for live events are "tied up by the Big Ten Network," for which OSU will receive an additional $6.4M this year. OSU AD Gene Smith said the IMG College bid "turned out better then we expected." Smith: "None of the other bids were close, in terms of dollars or creativity." The other three bids came from CBS Collegiate Sports Properties, Fenway Sports Group and Front Row Marketing, and what "differentiated IMG's bid ... was a partnership with RadiOhio, the broadcast company that has run" OSU's radio network since '84. By combining the marketing rights in OSU's November 19 RFP with the radio rights, IMG was able to "offer significantly more in its bid." Smith: "When you project our revenue in future years, IMG's bid is almost double what we were looking at in-house. This deal gives us guaranteed long-term stability for the next 10 years that we might not have had" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/30 issue).

EXTRA SPENDING MONEY: Smith said that OSU's athletic department "has been making about $6.3[M] a year through its in-house marketing efforts." In a front page piece, the COLUMBUS DISPTACH's Rita Price notes the athletic department "will save about $18[M] over the next decade in costs" as a result of the new deal. Smith "expects to use the extra money to pay down debt on facilities, create a reserve fund for maintenance and restore much of the $1.2[M] in budget cuts to sports programs this year." But Smith said that fans "won't notice much difference, save for a LED ribbon board, an electronic messaging device for advertisers, likely to be installed in Ohio Stadium" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/30).

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