SBJ/August 22-28, 2011/In Depth

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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