Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.
The Ivy League is looking for media and marketing partners to help the conference take advantage of its strong brand and elite collection of schools.
While the Ivy League is better known for its academics than athletics, executive director Robin Harris said the conference offers the kind of extensive college programming that many networks have been seeking. The Ivy League sponsors 33 conference championships and its eight schools average more than 35 sports, making the conference the broadest and most well-rounded in the country.
|Ivy League schools like Yale and Harvard are brand names more in academics than athletics.
Within the RFP are all Ivy League rights for linear TV and digital.
Harris has overseen the writing of the RFP, along with Scottie Rodgers, who runs the Ivy League’s communications and external operations. The conference, based in Princeton, N.J., also worked with consultant Patrick McNerney, a former IMG executive, on the RFP.
“We’re looking at this as a wonderful way to survey the landscape and maybe attract some new ideas, while trying to extend our brand and reach,” Harris said. “It’s something we’ve been talking about internally with our institutions for the last couple of years and we have a good sense of what our goals are. Our schools have truly come together through this process and they’re all fully committed to growing this.”
The Ivy League, which was founded in 1954, has methodically been working toward a more commercial approach in recent years. The conference hired NeuLion in 2013 to create the Ivy League Digital Network, and 1,100 live events were broadcast during the 2014-15 academic year. The league has worked primarily with NBC Sports Network since 2008 on its live TV broadcasts. Fox Sports also has had some Ivy League football, as has the American Sports Network.
The conference said one company or multiple companies could bid on the media and marketing rights.
The Ivy League has been working with New York-based Leverage Agency since 2012 on sponsorship sales, and the agency brought on JP Crickets as the official dress and casual shoe of the conference.
All of the current media and marketing partners are welcome to submit bids, the conference said.
Harris expects to be working on the bid process through the fall and hopes to have decisions made by the end of the year.
“We know we need terrific partners and we believe there is a demand,” she said. “This is about taking advantage of our programming and content, and the name association of our schools. We’ve got a high caliber of competition and we want to see what we can do to expand our reach.”