SBJ/April 16 - 22, 2007/This Weeks News

Host paying $65M for 10-year KU deal

Host Communications has entered into a partnership with ESPN Regional Television to market the multimedia rights at the University of Kansas, a deal that will pay the Jayhawks’ athletic department $65 million over the next 10 years.

Kansas fits the profile for Host properties

This new deal, expected to be announced today, replaces an agreement Kansas had solely with ESPN Regional. That contract, negotiated two years ago, would have paid $40 million over seven years and was scheduled to expire in 2012.

KU’s new $65 million deal is on par with the one Florida State struck with ISP Sports earlier this year, a 10-year contract worth $66 million.

Host, which also owns the rights at Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas and Nebraska, will be in charge of selling, producing and distributing Kansas’ radio broadcasts, as well as its coaches’ television shows and TV broadcasts of any games not picked up as part of the Big 12 Conference’s package. Additionally, Host will print and sell advertising for game-day programs, handle hospitality, corporate sponsorships, signage and the school’s athletic Web site.

ESPN Regional will have a shared role in managing KU’s TV production and distribution.

Learfield Sports and ISP also were believed to be in the running for the Jayhawks’ rights. More than a month ago, Learfield posted on an internal blog that it had acquired the property, but the entry quickly was taken down.

Learfield already owns the rights at Kansas State and KU’s border rival, Missouri, which was thought to be an issue for KU officials.

“We have a premier lineup of schools, and I think they liked the lineup they’d be in,” said Tom Stultz, president and CEO at Lexington, Ky.-based Host. “The discussions, the relationship, everything felt good, and we shared a common vision for what the property should look like. We’re also not handling any of their in-state or neighboring rivals, so the Kansas brand is going to get 100 percent of our attention.”

Once it became clear that ESPN Regional was seeking a partner earlier this year, Host instantly became involved. Stultz said KU’s profile as a dominant state university fit well with Host’s properties at Nebraska, Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas.

Stultz said he eventually met with KU Athletic Director Lew Perkins and Pete Derzis, ESPN Regional’s senior vice president and general manager, at an NCAA tournament site in Chicago. By the time of the Final Four, they were ready to hammer out a deal and seal it with a handshake.

College rights deals
A sampling of the most lucrative multimedia rights deals
No. of years
$80.4 million
12 years
$80 million*
10 years
$80 million
10 years
$76 million
12 years
$74.5 million
10 years
CBS Collegiate
$73.4 million**
10 years
Florida State
$66 million
10 years
ISP Sports
$65 million
10 years
$51.3 million
9 years
ISP Sports

* Estimated value; Texas’ deal is a revenue-share instead of a guaranteed figure.
** Host paid another $10 million to buy out Action Sports’ signage rights.
Source: SportsBusiness Journal archives


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