SBJ/August 22-28, 2011/In Depth

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  • Clothes make the brand

    Tinker Hatfield, Nike’s renowned shoe and uniform designer, used to visit sports camps all over the country and talk to young athletes to get inspiration for his next project.

    He also was a graduate from the University of Oregon, one of Nike’s primary clients, and he often would ask the kids what they knew about his alma mater.

    “They’d say, ‘Is that close to California?’” Hatfield said. “Now you can go from the sticks of Utah to the swamps of Louisiana and people know how to form the ‘O’ with their hands.

    “That’s marketing. That’s a successful program.”

    Oregon, with a lot of help from Nike and its generous chairman and alum, Phil Knight, created a football brand from nothing, becoming known for having more than 300 uniform combinations from all of its green, yellow, black, gray and white color schemes.

    The football team without an identity is now famous for building its own.

    The Ducks’ appearance in the BCS championship game last season was a coronation for Nike’s 15-year project to build Oregon football into a national power largely on the strength of marketing and branding. The Ducks created a cool factor for themselves that wasn’t there before. And cool means a lot to 17-year-old recruits.

    “We had not had much success, so why not be bold and try something new,” said Rob Mullens, Oregon’s athletic director since 2010. “We used to be ridiculed for being out there, but now you look across college football and it’s the trend.”

    N.C. STATE UNIVERSITY
    At N.C. State, Adidas is rolling out a fresh uniform update that sticks with tradition.
    GETTY IMAGES
    The South Carolina Gamecocks will sport new looks, compliments of Under Armour.
    Oregon’s ascent into a college football power has created an “industry-wide acknowledgement of the importance of brand development,” said Brad Bishop, co-founder of Dallas-based Torch Creative, which works with schools on their branding strategy and logos. “You didn’t hear athletic directors five, six years ago talking about their brand like you do now. There’s definitely much more of an evolving concern.”

    The brand focus is reflected in the number of uniform and logo overhauls executed by Nike, Under Armour, Adidas and Russell going into this college football season.

    Arizona State, Washington State, Oklahoma State, Wyoming and others in the Nike stable have opted for the “Oregon” approach with multiple helmets, jerseys and pants, all of which make their look more unpredictable.

    Adidas brought new looks to North Carolina State and Under Armour did extreme makeovers for South Carolina and Maryland, among others.

    That kind of revolutionary change does not fit every program, though. For every Maryland and Oklahoma State, there is the traditional look of a Penn State or Auburn, and that’s the balancing act today’s athletic directors must wrestle with when considering the brand image of their programs.

    Stirring up the nest

    It was 1996, on the heels of the Ducks’ blowout loss in a bowl game, that Knight brought his design team together and
    asked them a simple question: “How can we help the University of Oregon attract better students and better student athletes?”

    “He didn’t say ‘rebrand,’ he just asked the question,” said Hatfield, who teamed with another Nike creative artist, Michael Doherty, to plot a new course for the Ducks’ design away from the standard green and yellow with the interlocking UO on the helmet.

    Some of the initial concepts wound up on the cutting room floor. Green on one side of the jersey and yellow on the other didn’t make it.

    But there was a clear drive to “turn up the dial on being unexpected and edgy,” Hatfield said. “We wanted to be out there, to be purposely controversial. That’s a part of what we do that’s not very well understood.

    “A lot of the sports writers at first hated it and that’s actually what we wanted. If you’re purposely trying to stir up the nest and increase visibility, you want them saying something. And what’s a more visible way to turn up the heat and create a personality than through the football uniforms? So many millions see them on TV that uniforms become your biggest branding tool.”

    What the Ducks struggled to build on the field — an identity — they manufactured through design. Through their willingness to wear just about any color combination, they built one of the most unmistakable brands in college sports — one built on innovation and fun.

    “That’s become Oregon’s brand — let’s see how crazy we can get — and it’s working for them,” said Torch Creative’s Bishop.

    NIKE
    Wyoming followed the lead of Oregon in opting for an extensive variety of options from Nike.
    When Oregon squared off against Auburn in last season’s BCS championship game, it was the pioneering and adventurous folks from out West against the conservative, agrarian Southerners. Nowhere were the characteristics of the Ducks and Tigers more apparent than in their uniforms.

    Oregon came out in one of its 300-some color combinations. Never had so much been written and said pregame about what a team would wear in the title game. (By the way, those highlighter green socks were technically called volt).
    Auburn, meanwhile, wore the same colors and helmet design that it’s worn as the home team for more than 50 years, the interlocking AU on the helmet accented with two blue stripes and a thicker orange stripe.
     
    The two teams represent both schools of thought in the way branding affects their look on the field these days.

    Schools take a fresh look

    Schools like Auburn, Alabama, Penn State and Southern Cal aren’t likely to change their look. They cling to words like tradition and history as core brand attributes and the uniforms are uniquely part of that.

    Walker Jones, Under Armour’s director of NCAA marketing, recalled the conversation with Auburn officials when they struck their first equipment and apparel deal.

    “Auburn has had their look for years and they’re very conscious of their tradition,” Jones said. “They take it very seriously. When we got the deal done, they said to be as innovative as you can be from a performance standpoint, but don’t try to change the way we look.”

    But what if you’re a school that doesn’t have that history of success on the field? What if there is no tradition, or if the tradition is one you’d like to forget? Then you do what Arizona State, Oklahoma State and Washington State all have done this season. You create one.

    “We can’t get to where we want to go until we know who we are,” said Washington State AD Bill Moos, who supported the redesigns at Oregon when he was AD there from 1995 to 2007. “When we looked at our uniforms here, we had different shades of crimson and our fonts were all over the place. So the charge was to have a uniform style that distinguishes us and appeals to the 17-year-old recruit.

    “You don’t need to change Penn State or Michigan or Oklahoma. They’re recognized for having the same look for the last hundred years. But if you don’t have that tradition, you’ve got to find other ways to attract recruits and attract media attention. This rebranding is certainly one way to do it.”

    At Nike, those schools and others like Michigan State have gone through a branding exercise with Nike’s Graphic Identity Group, or GIG, which is a team of designers and branding experts who examine everything from uniforms and logos to mascots, business cards and email signatures.

    The typical GIG project lasts 18 months and the group takes on about four projects a year.

    “It’s just a great process that causes schools to think more about themselves as brands,” said Kit Morris, Nike’s director of college sports marketing.

    Nike doesn’t charge its clients extra for a brand overhaul, even though the service would cost $100,000 to $200,000 at most design firms, Morris said.

    No sitting Ducks

    So, if your brand identity is being the trendsetter in college athletics, as Oregon’s is, and others are trying to follow in your path, how do the Ducks’ stay ahead of the game?

    Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your TV, Oregon is embarking on another brand overhaul. Nike’s brand and
    design team is about to go to work on another new look for the Ducks.

    You can’t be known as the pacesetter if you’re not setting the pace and the Ducks, along with Nike, have decided it’s time for a change. Or more change.

    Did you expect anything less? Those jerseys with green on the front and yellow on the back might be making a comeback from the cutting room floor.

    “The question every school has to ask is if they’re effectively reaching their fan base,” said Jamie Skiles, principal of Phoenix Design Works, a New Jersey company that works with colleges on logos and brand campaigns. “It gives licensing a boost, it sells merchandise, and it’s a way to connect with your constituents. Oregon is always reinventing itself.”

    How do the creative forces at Nike find a way to make the Ducks even edgier than before? That’s the question they’re asking themselves.

    Right now, they’re not saying. Oregon’s brand makeover will be executed over the next year to 18 months and probably won’t be unveiled until the 2013 season.

    “Hey, it’s who we are,” Mullens said.

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  • Athletic budgets continue to climb

    Everyone in college sports is calling for cost control and lower spending, but new data shows schools spending more than ever.

    A majority of schools have increased their budgets by double-digit percentages from fiscal years 2010 to 2012, according to information obtained by SportsBusiness Journal from schools in the six major conferences.

    Of the 52 schools that provided annual budgets, 30 have increased their spending by 10 percent or more in the last three years. Seventeen of them, or a third, have increased spending by 15 percent or more.

    In some cases, creative athletic directors have found new revenue streams that provide them more money to pump into facilities, salaries and other discretionary spends. In other cases, spending is on the rise because of mandatory costs, such as tuition increases that drive up scholarship costs and administrative fees that are paid back to campus for services like legal, police and utilities.

    Administrators explain the increases by saying that they’re reinvesting in their programs and that the new revenue coming from richer TV contracts is funding the additional spending.

    “When you look two to three years out, it looks like we’re falling off the edge of a cliff,” said Jamie Pollard, Iowa State’s AD. “It’s a scary thought. But the cliff keeps moving further and further away. ADs have found ways to raise new revenue, trim costs and figure it out. … A year and a half ago, we were making a lot of strategic decisions about the cost of travel, salaries, ways we could make some cuts. We’re not doing that as much this year. Our basketball team is making a trip overseas this year and that’s something we wouldn’t have done a year or two ago.”

    Across the country, schools are seeing increases in revenue from a variety of areas, but the two main sources are new TV contracts and premium seating for football.

    GETTY IMAGES
    The University of Louisville’s athletic budget has grown 31.3 percent in the past three years to $68.8 million thanks in part to a new downtown arena and premium seating in the football stadium.
    The University of Louisville’s budget has grown from $52.4 million to $68.8 million, an increase of 31.3 percent from the Cardinals’ new downtown basketball arena and premium seating in the football stadium, which has grown from a capacity of 42,000 to 55,000.

    Michigan, likewise, has used new premium seating revenue from football to help drive up its budget from $84.6 million to $109.8 million, a 29.8 percent rise.

    Texas, which annually has the nation’s largest budget, will see its numbers jump by $15 million this year mostly because of its new contract with ESPN to run the Longhorn Network.

    In a classic case of the rich getting richer, the Longhorns’ budget will leap to a record $153.5 million this year. What’s more remarkable is that Texas has just 17 sports to support, fewer than most schools its size.

    UT’s budget has grown from $129.9 million just two years ago, an 18.2 percent increase. Not only does Texas have the largest budget in the country, its budget has grown more percentage-wise since 2010 than any of its counterparts in the Big 12.

    These types of double-digit increases are not expected to stop any time soon.

    “I really question what kind of ROI filter they use on their expenditures,” said A.J. Maestas, president of Chicago-based Navigate Marketing. “Is that stadium expansion really necessary? Are they doing it just to keep up with their rival? But on the other hand, I don’t think the money is going to run out any time soon. I still see a decade’s worth of very aggressive growth rates, probably 10 percent or more with most schools, with more commercial expertise in tickets, donations, sponsorships, premium seating and TV revenue. The cost curve is not slowing down, but I think schools can continue to keep pace with revenue.”


    ACC
    School FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 Change (2010-12)
    Clemson $57.6 $58.4 $62.5 +8.5%
    Florida State $48.1 $55.0 $57.9 +20.4%
    Georgia Tech $52.5 $55.1 $58.9 +12.2%
    Maryland $52.7 $56.0 $62.1 +17.8%
    North Carolina $61.8 $65.4 $72.2 +16.8%
    N.C. State $45.7 $49.5 $56.6 +23.9%
    Virginia $58.5 $64.7 $67.7 +15.7%
    Virginia Tech $48.0 $50.3 $49.0 +2.1%
    * Budgets for Boston College, Duke, Miami and Wake Forest were not available.
     
    BIG TEN
    School FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 Change (2010-12)
    Illinois  $71.1 $71.4 $70.2 -1.0%
    Indiana  $55.4 $58.1 $61.5 +11.0%
    Iowa  $65.6 $70.1 $74.9 +14.2%
    Michigan  $84.6 $103.9 $109.8 +29.8%
    Michigan State  $74.0 $76.1 $78.8 +7.5%
    Minnesota  $74.1 $76.7 $78.6 +6.1%
    Nebraska  $74.3 $79.4 $79.1 +6.5%
    Ohio State  $118.1 $128.4 $126.5 +7.1%
    Penn State  $85.5 $89.2 $92.0 +7.6%
    Purdue  $57.3 $57.6 $68.7 +19.9%
    Wisconsin  $83.3 $83.1 $88.1 +5.8%
    * Budgets for Northwestern were not available.
     
    BIG 12
    School FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 Change (2010-12)
    Iowa State  $40.1 $42.3 $47.0 +17.3%
    Kansas  $61.1 $64.4 $67.2 +10.0%
    Kansas State  $44.2 $47.0 $51.5 +16.5%
    Missouri  $50.0 $53.2 $56.4 +12.8%
    Oklahoma  $80.5 $85.2 $90.5 +12.4%
    Oklahoma State  $49.6 $53.7 $57.8 +16.5%
    Texas  $129.9 $136.8 $153.5 +18.2%
    Texas A&M  $68.8 $69.0 $75.8 +10.2%
    Texas Tech  $56.2 $53.0 $54.0 -3.9%
    * Budgets for Baylor were not available.
    PAC-12
    School FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 Change (2010-12)
    Arizona  $45.0 $50.0 $55.0 +22.2%
    Arizona State  $47.3 $45.6 $48.6 +2.7%
    California  $69.4 $64.2 $71.2 +2.6%
    Colorado  $46.6 $47.4 $49.3 +5.8%
    Oregon  $77.9 $84.5 $87.8 +12.7%
    Oregon State  $49.8 $48.7 $56.6 +13.7%
    UCLA  $61.9 $64.1 $64.1 +3.6%
    Utah  $27.8 $29.7 $35.0 +25.9%
    Washington $63.2 $62.1 $67.1 +6.2%
    Washington State  $37.0 $38.5 $39.3 +6.2%
    * Budgets for Southern California and Stanford were not available.
     
    SEC
    School FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 Change (2010-12)
    Alabama   $96.2 $94.6 N/A  N/A
    Arkansas  $60.3 $63.3 $69.0 +14.4%
    Auburn  $81.0 $88.7 $95.7 +18.1%
    Florida  $98.6 $95.4 $97.7 -1.0%
    Georgia $84.8 $84.8 $90.0 +6.1%
    Kentucky  $72.7 $79.4 $83.6 +15.0%
    LSU  $81.5 $88.3 $90.6 +11.2%
    Mississippi  $42.0 $43.7 $47.6 +13.3%
    Mississippi State  $35.9 $37.4 $40.1 +11.7%
    South Carolina  $73.0 $77.0 $79.0 +8.2%
    Tennessee  $100.9 $100.0 $103.3 +2.4%
    * Budgets for Vanderbilt were not available.
     
    BIG EAST
    School FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 Change (2010-12)
    Connecticut  $58.4 $62.0 $64.0 +9.6%
    Louisville  $52.4 $64.4 $68.8 +31.3%
    Rutgers  $64.2 $62.0 N/A  N/A 
    South Florida  $32.7 $37.8 $40.4 +23.5%
    West Virginia  $56.0 $58.0 $58.0 +3.6%
    N/A=Not available
    Note: Projected number for Connecticut's budget, which has not yet received state approval.
    Big East non-football schools excluded.
    * Budgets for Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and TCU were not available.


    The Knight Commission, a watchdog group made up mostly of current and former college administrators, issued a report two years ago that called these budget increases unsustainable. “At many universities, spending on high-profile sports is growing at double or triple the pace of spending on academics,” the Knight Commission wrote.

    But the criticism hasn’t slowed spending on many campuses.

    Schools in the ACC have increased their spending the most, with an average jump of 14.6 percent among the eight public schools that supplied their budgets. The ACC’s new TV contract with ESPN, which doubled revenue to about $155 million a year, accounts for much of the increase.

    Schools in the Big 12 have been the next-most aggressive, increasing their budgets 12.6 percent, followed by the Big
    GETTY IMAGES
    The Longhorns overwhelm other schools when it comes to the size of their athletic budget.
    East at 11.2 percent. The Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 conferences each raised spending 8 percent to 10 percent.

    More increases will be on the way for Pac-12 schools once their new $250 million-a-year TV deal with ESPN and Fox takes effect in fiscal 2013.

    “A lot of change in spending is related to making reinvestments in facilities, based largely on money from new TV deals,” Pollard said. “We’re going forward with three new projects and we’re taking on debt for that, but we’re doing so knowing that revenue is going up.”

    While TV revenue will push budgets higher in the future, ADs also must contend with rising costs in what they call the hidden expenses, such as administrative fees that go back to campus for services such as police, accounting, legal, utilities and other mandatory charges.

    North Carolina State’s administrative costs jumped from $700,000 to $1.4 million this year.

    “At most places, you’re talking about at least $1 million in new mandatory expenses every year before you even look at travel, equipment and other costs,” Oregon AD Rob Mullens said.

    Diane Moose, associate AD at N.C. State, said she plans for at least a 6 percent increase in utilities each year.

    “People don’t think about a lot of those costs, but we’ve got to pay them,” Moose said. “You’ve got to insure buildings and you’ve got to provide health benefits, and those costs are going up.”

    Conference by conference

    % INCREASE FROM 2010-12   MEDIAN BUDGET
    ACC 14.60%   ACC $60.5M
    Big 12 12.60%   Big 12 $57.8M
    Big East 11.20%   Big East $62.0M
    Big Ten 10.10%   Big Ten $78.8M
    Pac-12 9.10%   Pac-12 $55.8M
    SEC 8.40%   SEC $90.3M

    * Projections were used for schools whose 2012 budget has not yet been approved.

    More mandatory expenses could fall on athletic departments if the conference commissioners follow through with their support of the “full cost of education” for each scholarship athlete. Currently, the grant-in-aid covers room, board, tuition and books, but a “full cost” measure would provide spending money for entertainment and occasional travel. Many academic scholarships already include some spending money.

    Some estimate that schools might have to come up with an additional $1 million to $1.5 million to cover the full cost of education for every scholarship athlete in revenue and nonrevenue sports. Most schools in the six major conferences are studying the exact effect of this on the budget, and they’re counting on conference TV revenue to shoulder the cost.

    The bigger-ticket items are salaries and scholarships, which account for close to half of the expenses in an athletic department. For schools such as Indiana and Oregon, that recruit most of their scholarship athletes from out of state, the scholarship fee jumps significantly to pay that out-of-state tuition.

    Indiana, for example, brings 70 percent to 75 percent of its athletes in from outside the state. At Oregon, it’s 80 percent.
    “When tuition jumps up, like it has a lot in recent years, we have to pay that full bill,” said Kevin Clark, Indiana’s associate AD. “We receive no waivers for out-of-state students.”

    Salaries are a huge chunk for most budgets, as much as 40 percent of the overall budget in some cases. At Tennessee, for example, the Volunteers still have another year to pay former football coach Phillip Fulmer his $1.5 million-a-year buyout. Much of Arkansas’ 9 percent budget hike this year was tied to an increase in salary for football coach Bobby Petrino and the hiring of basketball coach Mike Anderson.

    The new revenue from TV also has administrators thinking more about increasing their reserve funds. Athletic departments typically try to keep 10 percent of their annual budget locked away in the bank for a rainy day.

    “Budgets aren’t quite as tight as they were a couple of years ago, but we’re still watching everything closely,” N.C. State’s Moose said. “Most every school is dealing with state budgets that are getting worse and you’ve got to be prepared to do more with less. I’ve never seen a campus come in and take cash reserves from athletics — I’ve never felt that threat — but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.”


    GETTY IMAGES
    Ohio State’s $126.5 million athletic budget is the second-largest in college sports.

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  • BYUtv uses sports to move into the spotlight

    The highly anticipated Longhorn Network will launch this week with all of the pomp and promotion that ESPN and the University of Texas can put behind it.
     
    With far less fanfare nationally, BYUtv, another university-branded network, will begin its 12th year of covering sports at Brigham Young and it will be doing it on a much larger scale than it ever has. While BYUtv, a nonprofit, educational channel, never intended to become a regional sports network, it is moving in that direction as a way of supporting BYU now that the school has moved out of the Mountain West Conference and into independent status in football.

    While a new broadcast agreement with ESPN was critical to BYU’s independence in football, the move never would have happened without BYUtv, which will broadcast 130 live BYU sporting events in the 2011-12 year. That’s nearly five times more live broadcasts than the network has attempted in the past.

    MARK PHILBRICK
    BYU sports will account for more than a third of the network’s programming.
    It’s just that, until now, few people knew much about BYUtv, a faith- and family-focused network started in 2000 and owned completely by the university. The network is available to nearly 60 million U.S. households as a free educational channel. As such, it doesn’t sell traditional advertising, but it does accept sponsorships and underwriting grants to support its programming. BYUtv doesn’t release actual viewership numbers.

    “Having BYUtv really pushed us to the decision to go independent in football,” said Tom Holmoe, BYU’s athletic director and a staunch critic of the Mountain West’s media arrangements with the conference’s own channel, The mtn., and CBS College because they didn’t provide enough visibility.

    “We’ve been broadcasting Olympic sports on BYUtv for years and we knew exactly what we had there,” Holmoe said. “We knew all of the potential that was sitting there. We would never have even thought about going independent without it.”

    Beginning this season, BYUtv will begin looking much more like a sports channel. Its programming mix, which in the past included less than 10 percent sports, will jump to 34 percent sports. Other programming includes cooking shows, documentaries, BYU-related academic news and lectures, and faith-based shows that focus on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors the school.

    Even before the transition to more sports, BYUtv’s lineup has been strong enough to establish distribution that includes DirecTV, Dish Network and close to 500 cable systems.

    The school isn’t sure how many more homes throughout Latin America receive BYUtv International, but it’s significant enough that many of BYU’s live events will be broadcast in English, Spanish and Portuguese to more than 100 countries.
    BYUtv’s sports programming in years past has been limited to about 30 live Olympic sports events a year and replays of old football and basketball games.

    The rights to football game replays were difficult to acquire because the Mountain West made the waiting period
    MARK PHILBRICK
    sometimes as long as a year before games could be re-aired. BYUtv is negotiating with Collegiate Images, a division of XOS Digital, to buy the rights to re-air BYU’s football games from its Mountain West days. Collegiate Images is the rights holder for the conference.

    This season, BYUtv will carry one live football game, 10 to 15 men’s basketball games and close to 130 live Olympic sports games. New shoulder programming will include pregame and postgame shows around the football games, even the ones carried by ESPN, and “Legends,” a show that features archived games. “True Blue,” a weekly sports magazine show, is moving from Wednesday night to Monday night.

    The number of live football games could increase in future years. ESPN’s rights deal with BYU calls for the network to carry a minimum of three live football games on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC, and another on ESPNU. This season, ESPN is carrying all but one, the Idaho State game, which will go live on BYUtv. The school’s channel has the rights to any game ESPN doesn’t pick up.

    BYUtv also struck a deal with ESPN that will allow it to rebroadcast football games immediately after they’ve been aired. And ESPN contributed more than 100 archived BYU games to BYUtv’s library.

    In all, BYU sports will account for more than a third of the programming for the network, and that percentage is expected to grow.

    “We’re looking at sports being the foundation for everything we want to accomplish,” said Keith Willes, director of marketing for BYU Broadcasting, which includes TV, digital and a radio channel that’s carried on Sirius/XM. “That includes an expanded reach, more eyes on the station and introducing a new viewership to other content. This is a big opportunity for us to bring more exposure to the network and to the university.”

    The channel’s content is available as part of a mobile app that BYU released this summer that’s free for viewers.
    The network, in addition, plans by the end of August to launch a new website, BYUtvSports.com, which will carry the channel’s programming and other features as an online complement to BYUtv.

    “We feel like we’re giving people an all-access pass to BYU sports, any time, any place they want to access it,” Willes said. “And for us, this is only the beginning. There also will be a video-on-demand capability, as well. This is all about exposure for the university, and exposure for the athletic program and football team.”

    While owned by the university, BYUtv keeps its own budget. The network is sharing the costs with BYU’s athletic department for all of the new sports programming.

    Much of the additional costs are wrapped into the production work that will be required in broadcasting nearly five times as many live events as last year. BYU has the rights to its home events, but Holmoe said the school also is looking into broadcasting Olympic sports events away from home, especially against opponents in BYU’s new home for non-football competition, the West Coast Conference.

    Holmoe also is leading the charge to wire BYU’s sports venues for live broadcasts, which will enable the school to air more than one game at a time. In the case of multiple home events at the same time, one game will go to TV and the others will be streamed online.

    “BYUtv is not a money tree,” Holmoe said. “There are going to be a lot of costs going forward. We have an agreement between the athletic department and BYUtv on what we’ll do and what they’ll do. We don’t talk about the numbers, but as we move forward, we’ll do more. For now, we’re going to be pretty cautious and try to be as efficient as possible.”
    Holmoe wants to get to the point where anytime a BYU team is playing, it’s available on TV, a mobile handheld device or the computer.

    “We’ve got to walk before we run, but we’re pretty giddy about the possibilities,” he said.

     

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  • Network now part of inventory sold by BYU multimedia rights holder IMG College

    BYU’s multimedia rights partner, IMG College, has agreed to a deal that will enable it to sell into BYUtv, the university-owned network that will significantly increase its sports programming this season.

    Casey Stauffer, IMG College’s general manager of the BYU sports property, said he has been in talks with the network throughout the summer to get access to BYUtv’s inventory.

    BYUtv is an educational, nonprofit network that operates under the same guidelines as public TV, which means it can accept private donations and corporate sponsorships, but it cannot run the “call to action” ads that typically appear on for-profit networks.

    “This is a very big development and a great connection for us to have,” Stauffer said. “It’s going to be a collaborative effort. We’re going through the client list and saying, ‘We’ll handle this one, you handle that one.’ We both have contacts that dovetail nicely.”

    BYUtv’s move to increase its sports programming this year started when the school’s football team left the Mountain West Conference to go independent and the non-football sports joined the West Coast Conference. More than a third of BYUtv’s programming in 2011-12 will be sports-oriented.

    But unlike the University of Texas, which is receiving $300 million over 20 years from ESPN for the Longhorn Network, there’s no rights fee going from BYUtv to BYU. Tom Holmoe, BYU’s athletic director, has acknowledged that the new sports programming is much more about exposure than revenue, and there are significant production costs associated with it.

    The athletic department, however, could benefit from IMG’s sales efforts. IMG pays BYU a revenue guarantee and if sales surpass certain thresholds, BYU shares in the additional revenue. Selling against BYUtv’s inventory will help IMG push toward and, potentially, above those thresholds, which would mean more revenue for the school from its multimedia rights partner.

    “We don’t have to make a ton of revenue, especially on the Olympic sports,” said Holmoe. “We want exposure. We’re not going to have commercials like crazy.

    “If we want to do a women’s soccer match against Portland and the game is there, it might cost $30,000 to $40,000 to televise it. We’ll go to a soccer donor and say, ‘Do you want to do this game?’ In the first year, we’ll have to figure out how this is going to work, but there should be some pretty good opportunities for IMG in this.”

    BYUtv has a sales team of three full-timers, while IMG College’s team has four sales executives based on BYU’s campus in Provo, Utah.

    IMG will have the ability to sell against the network’s sports programming, its new website, BYUtvSports.com, and the new BYUtv mobile app. Among the inventory that’s been discussed is sponsorship of games, quarters, replays and other facets of the broadcast.

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  • Kansas State launching broadband channel

    Kansas State plans to launch a high-definition broadband channel this month that will enable the school to produce and distribute its own content, including the live broadcast of the Wildcats’ football season opener against Eastern Kentucky.

    Content for the channel will be heavy with live athletic events, but it also will carry shoulder programming, weekly magazine shows, and academic programming from lectures to dance and musical events.

    K-State HDTV will carry live events, shoulder programming and weekly magazine shows.
    The digital network will be called K-State HDTV and can be accessed directly at K-StateHD.tv or by using a link off the school’s athletic website, K-StateSports.com.

    K-State Athletic Director John Currie said the athletic department is spending about $500,000 for cameras and other equipment to produce the content in high-def. The school already owns an HD broadcast truck.

    “We’re creating our own network, but it’s a digital network,” Currie said. “We’ve got alumni and constituents all over the world, and our goal is to be able to reach all of them with a global platform that will help us stay connected.”

    In Texas, the formation of the Longhorn Network will give K-State’s Big 12 rival, the University of Texas, unprecedented exposure through its own TV channel, but that kind of initiative doesn’t work for every school, said Currie, who applauded the Longhorns for partnering with ESPN on the TV network. Few schools have the fan following and the TV households in-state to support a linear channel like that.

    Still, Texas’ new channel is applying pressure to other schools to provide more content to their fans. Oklahoma is doing its own research into forming a TV channel dedicated to the Sooners, and the other eight Big 12 schools, including K-State, continue to have talks with Learfield Sports about forming their own TV channel, although Texas A&M’s flirtations with the SEC have likely put that on hold.

    But the Wildcats, who remain interested in a conference TV channel, saw other benefits in creating a broadband channel.

    “Revenue is important,” Currie said, “but the focus is much more on exposure and being at the forefront of communicating with our constituents.”

    As a member of the Big 12, K-State is able to retain the rights to any games that are not picked up by the conference’s media partners, ESPN and Fox. That will include at least one football game per season, a handful of men’s basketball games and most of the Olympic sports. All 13 of the Wildcats’ home volleyball matches will be broadcast live on the online channel. There also will be pregame and postgame football shows, live coverage of coaches’ press conferences, and a daily wrap-up show for all sports. On-demand programming will include replays of classic K-State games.

    “We’ve got more flexibility in the Big 12 than any other conference in the country,” Currie said. “Our broadcast contracts enable us to retain a lot of our own content and distribute it.”

    In the past, Kansas State football games that were not picked up by ESPN or Fox would not have been telecast.

    Even if K-State made its game against Eastern Kentucky available in-state via pay-per-view, which might have generated revenue in the low six figures, it wouldn’t give the Wildcats the national and global exposure that’s available on the Web.

    Keeping that game on the new digital network will help drive subscribers to the site, which is selling the premium content for $79.95 a year or $9.95 a month. Some content will be offered for free, Currie said. Learfield, K-State’s multimedia rights partner, will have the ability to sell sponsorships and advertising into the broadcasts.

    Currie said much of the production work will be handled by students who are being trained to run the equipment and who will receive class credit for their work.

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  • Michigan State opts for consistency

    Michigan State University entered its new brand identity campaign with Nike last year, but the strategy that’s worked so well for Oregon wasn’t what the Spartans wanted. They were more interested in consistency and a single, iconic look — not 300 variations of a uniform.

    MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
    The university wanted a consistent theme whether it was volleyball or football.
    MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
    “Our brand just wasn’t going to go to extremes in the way we present ourselves,” said Michigan State’s associate athletic director, Paul Schager. “For Oregon, it fits them and they expect that. For Michigan State, we’re looking for more of a consistent, traditional look. I guess it’s just an attitude people have. Maybe we’re more conservative in the Midwest and they’re more progressive on the West Coast. But you’ve got to have a feel for what your brand is.”

    The Spartans had a couple of major decisions to make: What shade of green and what helmet design. They went with a deeper, darker green than they had used in the past, with gold trim around the numbers. They also elected to go with the Spartan head on the helmet, rather than the block “S” that can easily be confused with other schools.

    “Our history is that a lot of uniform changes were adjustments made at the coaching level,” Schager said. “Each sport was making their own decisions and what we wound up with was a bunch of different shades of green. What we’ve said is that it’s not in the best interest of the program to have each coach put a signature on the uniforms. We’ve gone to a more centralized plan, and that’s a much better way to centralize our brand.”


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  • North Texas, FAU set to debut new stadiums

    Two new college football stadiums open this season, at the University of North Texas and at Florida Atlantic University. Both schools are members of the Sun Belt Conference, both stadiums were designed by HKS, and both buildings seat about 30,000.
     
    North Texas, based in Denton, recently announced a naming-rights deal with Apogee, an Austin, Texas-based campus networking firm. The 20-year deal is valued at about $1 million annually. As of mid-August, the school had only one suite remaining to sell and had sold more than 600 club seats, according to Cooper Jones, senior associate athletic director of development. In both cases, North Texas has surpassed the benchmarks it set for that portion of stadium revenue used to pay construction debt, Jones said.

    FAU Stadium opens in mid-October, one month after North Texas, and as such, the Owls will play five of their last seven games this year at home at the new venue. As of last week, school officials in Boca Raton had not signed a naming-rights deal. Thirteen suites had been sold, and the facility’s 26 loge boxes are sold out. There were 391 Premier Club seats sold and 1,463 Priority Club seats sold. With eight weeks left before the first home game, FAU officials were confident they could sell most of the remaining premium inventory, said Athletic Director Craig Angelos.

    The University of North Carolina, meanwhile, tops this year’s list for renovation projects. Kenan Stadium adds the $70 million Blue Zone in the facility’s east end, a five-story structure with 20 suites, two clubs supporting 2,300 premium seats, and a separate level with 224 loge seats. On a smaller scale, Montana State and Mississippi Valley State, two Football Championship Subdivision schools, have upgraded their stadiums with projects valued at $10 million and $5.5 million, respectively.

    FAU STADIUM

    HKS

    Florida Atlantic University
    First game: Oct. 15 vs. Western Kentucky
    Cost: $62 million
    Architect: HKS; SchenkelShultz
    Square footage: 141,538 enclosed
    Seats: 30,000
    Suites: 24; three years, $32,760 annually; four years, $29,760; five years, $26,760; plus minimum one-time gift of $20,000
    Club seats: Priority Club, 4,000 seats; Premier Club, 1,000 seats. Priority Club, one to five years, $346.50 to $385 per seat; Premier Club, one to five years, $1,080 to $1,480 per seat
    Loge boxes: 26; 16 with six seats, 10 with four seats; terms are three to five years, $6,707 to $9,560 annually, depending on commitment and number of seats, plus minimum annual gift of $2,500
    Destinations: 8,000-square-foot, air-conditioned club; covered, 17,400-square-foot outdoor club between the two club seat sections
    Signature element: Tropical theme, tiki huts and palm trees

    APOGEE STADIUM
    HKS

    University of North Texas
    First game: Sept. 10 vs. Houston
    Cost: $79 million
    Architect: HKS
    Square footage: 131,729 enclosed
    Seats: 29,000
    Suites: 21; $20,000 annually with five-year commitment, plus minimum six-figure gift
    Club seats: 754; one-time gift of $3,125 to $12,500 per club seat paid over five years, minimum $500 annual donation, plus cost of $350 season tickets
    Destinations: 12,000-square-foot club lounge, Touchdown Terrace, team store, Junior Mean Green Fun Land
    Signature element: Three 100-kilowatt wind turbines outside the stadium. The structures, 120 feet tall with 30-foot-long blades, should produce one-third of the stadium’s annual 2 million kilowatts usage.

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