SBD/Issue 31/Sports Media

ESPN Makes Bid For Univ. Of Texas Network, Countering Fox Offer

Texas, IMG College Now May Wait Until
November To Select A Network Partner

ESPN has "countered a bid by Fox Sports to operate a University of Texas channel and is now viewed by industry insiders as a legitimate competitor to partner with the school on a Longhorns network," according to Ourand & Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. ESPN's pitch "has been buoyed" by Exec VP/Content John Skipper, who "recently has engaged officials from Texas and the school's multimedia rights holder, IMG College, in the negotiations." While Skipper has "not traveled to Texas for these negotiations," sources indicated that he has been "more engaged with IMG College, which is handling the bidding process." Texas and IMG "originally expected to have a network partner selected" by the end of this month, but sources said that the "timetable has shifted and likely will move into November." Ourand & Smith report the competition "appears to be down to Fox and ESPN, two networks well-versed in launching channels and navigating the travails of distribution" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/25 issue).

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