SBJ/20080804/This Week's News

IMG pays $86M for Michigan rights

The University of Michigan became the latest elite college athletic program to sell off a package of its media rights, bringing in $86 million through a 12-year deal with IMG College.

The deal, which runs through June 2020, marks the first time Michigan has bundled all of its media rights into one package and marks the continuation of a trend where colleges are hiring companies, such as IMG College, to maximize revenue from those rights.

Since IMG announced its acquisition of Host Communications late last year, the new IMG College unit has done multimedia deals with Nebraska, Oregon and Gonzaga. They will also partner with Sun Sports on a deal with the University of Florida.

“More and more colleges are doing that,” said Tom Stultz, IMG College’s senior vice president and managing director. “Michigan decided it would generate more revenue for itself if it bundled all the rights together.”

IMG had to convince Michigan that it would
protect the integrity of “The Big House.”

IMG College had held Michigan’s radio rights for the past seven years. Through the years, it also had picked up publishing and Web site management rights.

Under the new deal, which is set to be announced this week, IMG College also will pick up all rights associated with corporate sponsorships, hospitality and coaches’ endorsements, as well as manage coaches’ TV and radio shows.

Most of the expanded rights previously had been handled in-house. The university will continue to manage all apparel rights.

The school’s local TV rights are locked up by the Big Ten Network.

Throughout the negotiations, IMG College had to convince the school that it would protect the integrity of the game-day experience inside Michigan Stadium, known as “The Big House.”

“We can increase the revenue and value of corporate sponsorships by doing things outside the stadium,” Stultz said. “The more we talked about that, the more excited they got about it.”

Those outside-the-stadium opportunities include hospitality, retail promotions and a creative use of marks.

“There are a number of opportunities like that,” Stultz said.

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