SBJ/December 19-25, 2011/Media

Fox Sports finishes deal to acquire USC multimedia rights

After nearly a year of wrangling, the University of Southern California has completed a deal to outsource its multimedia rights to Fox Sports, industry sources said.

The Trojans were one of the few remaining major colleges that had not outsourced a bundled marketing and media rights package, instead choosing to handle sales with its own staff. That approach changed when Pat Haden came on board as athletic director last year. Haden replaced Mike Garrett, who preferred the in-house approach.

Thinking on multimedia rights changed at USC when Pat Haden became AD.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The 10-year deal with Fox is thought to guarantee USC more than $7 million a year on average, about $1 million more than the Trojans were doing annually on their own.

The move into college multimedia rights, while not unprecedented for Fox, is certainly rare. The only other arrangement similar to the USC deal is one that Fox-owned Sun Sports signed with Florida. That is valued at close to $10 million a year in a 10-year package. Once Sun Sports won the Gators’ rights, the regional network hired IMG College to manage the property.

Industry sources say this is not the start of a trend for Fox to get deeper into multimedia rights, but the USC property presented a unique opportunity because the Los Angeles school is based near Fox’s headquarters and the Trojans represent a premier college brand.

Home Team Sports, a division of Fox Sports, will oversee the property.

HTS is in the process of hiring a general manager who will be embedded in the Trojans’ athletic department. USC’s general manager will report to Kyle Sherman, executive vice president for HTS and chief of ad sales for Fox Sports Net. Sources said HTS and FSN will benefit from offering packages that could include sponsorship at USC and media from Fox’s RSNs.

Through the deal, HTS will have the rights to USC’s football and basketball radio network, official sponsorships, venue signs, and other promotional marketing and hospitality.

For the first year, Fox will handle rights to USC basketball on FS West. Afterward, those local TV rights go back to the conference for the planned Pac-12 channels.

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