SBJ/July 25-31, 2011/Media

Conference USA TV partner Fox adds sales, marketing rights deal

Conference USA, which earlier this year sold its TV rights to Fox, has struck a multiyear deal to turn over its sales and marketing rights to the network as well.

Home Team Sports, a division of Fox Sports, will manage Conference USA’s corporate sponsorship program and will be able to sell into the TV broadcasts on Fox and the league website, ConferenceUSA.com. Fox takes over the property from CBS, which had the rights for six years and also had the conference’s TV rights.

Conference USA’s inventory includes sponsorships around its football championship game, basketball tournament and other championship events.

Fox will start with a blank slate in Conference USA’s corporate partner program. The league’s deals with partners GMC, Geico and others expired at the end of the 2010-11 fiscal year last month. Those agreements were purposely scheduled to come to a close with the end of CBS’s deal with the conference.

“We were looking for a partner that had the media piece and the sponsorship piece because it just makes it easier for the partner to have access to both,” said Kelly Carney, the conference’s associate commissioner for marketing.

The Dallas-based conference also had discussions with Learfield Sports and IMG College before deciding to go with Fox. The agreement is a revenue share between the network and the conference.

The Conference USA property will be managed out of Fox’s Los Angeles office by Jack Trompeter, director of sponsorship sales for Fox Sports Enterprises and a lead sales executive on Fox’s Pac-12 Properties.

There also will be a heavy sales effort out of Fox’s regional network, FSN Southwest, which serves half of the markets in the 12-school conference.

The deal with Conference USA keeps Fox in the conference business. It has long had a relationship with the Pac-12, but that deal expires after the 2011-12 season. The Pac-12 has said that it will take those sales and marketing rights in-house.

“We’re goimg to be able to offer advertisers a complete package of opportunities to reach passionate and engaged fans. It’s a great way to deliver value while also addressing the needs of the conference and corporate sponsors.” said Kyle Sherman, executive vice president of sales for Fox’s Home Team Sports.

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