SBD/December 6, 2012/Colleges

IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum: Realm Of Intellectual Properties Expanding In Sports

Navigating the exploding realm of digital and social media remains one of the most daunting and exciting challenges for university administrators and their media partners. A panel at the ‘12 IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum discussed intellectual properties and the associated challenges. There is no shortage of content opportunities for college athletic departments, particularly for Olympic sports that do not get as much exposure on TV and proportionately benefit more from digital distribution. With digital subscriber and advertising interest continuing to grow, revenue opportunities also are robust. But sorting out the distribution and rights landscapes remain a thorny issue. For example, a behind-the-scenes video of a team traveling to its next game -- fairly simple content to produce -- has quickly proven popular with many schools. But should that material go straight to the university's athletic website? To YouTube? To conference-run cable channels? National media partners? All of the above? How is the related revenue divided? How are fans properly directed without getting confused or frustrated? Learfield Sports Chief Content Officer Joe Ferreira said, "Awareness is a big issue, now that there's so much content and so many avenues." UCLA Senior Associate AD/External Relations Mark Harlan added, "The biggest challenge we have is having all the resources to support all this content. We're now all hiring videographers and storytellers. We did the same before with writers, generating content, and now we're doing the same with video. And that comes with a cost."

QUICK HITS

-- Ferreira on whether college sports, which are traditionally strong at the regional and local levels, still have untapped potential as a national entity: "People are buying into college football at those local levels. We need to look at how we drive that to a national level.”

-- Google Head of Sport for North America Frank Golding has concerns with exploding TV rights fees. He said, "How do we grow the pie? We can't keep offering these kinds of rights fees without growing the pie."

-- NeuLion Exec VP Chris Wagner said that there is significant opportunity in college sports to develop more whip-around and scoring play-related content. Wagner: "People want to take the concept of 'RedZone' and apply it to college.”
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