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Volume 21 No. 6
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Arkansas sees multimedia rights increase of nearly 90 percent with IMG College extension

The University of Arkansas has agreed to a 10-year, $137 million multimedia rights extension with IMG College that will be among the most lucrative in the country.

Included in the guaranteed revenue will be $6 million that is earmarked for the installation of Wi-Fi at the Razorbacks’ football, basketball and baseball venues.

The average annual payout of $13.7 million, beginning with the 2018-19 academic year, will be an almost 90 percent increase over the previous deal with IMG College, which averaged $7.3 million. That original contract was signed in 2008 with ISP Sports, which later sold to IMG.

Arkansas’ deal puts it in line with some of the most recent deals struck by IMG College, including a $152 million agreement with Georgia (a joint venture between IMG and JMI Sports) and a $144 million deal with UCLA, both over 10 years.

Two other huge brands could soon have rich, new rights agreements that further reshape the market — Notre Dame and Ohio State. The Fighting Irish are currently in negotiations with multiple agencies, while the Buckeyes have been locked in talks with incumbent IMG College this year.

For the Razorbacks to get their deal with IMG College done before taking it to the marketplace “speaks strongly about the strength of the relationship,” said Tim Pernetti, IMG College’s president. Pernetti worked on the deal with Jeff Long, Arkansas’ athletic director, and Chris Freet, senior associate AD for external operations and strategic communications. Arkansas also has its licensing and stadium seating business with IMG under separate contracts.

“This further establishes the Razorback brand as a national brand, even though we’re in a small state,” Long said. “The IMG relationship has been a good one for both sides and we’re happy it’s going to continue.”

The extension does not include any naming rights to the Razorbacks’ facilities, but the investment into upgrading the technology inside the three main stadiums and arenas on campus was a focus. Arkansas is deep into talks with technology company AmpThink to handle installation and connectivity, although the deal has not been finalized.

The school intends to work with its technology provider to use Wi-Fi as a way to gather information about fans at the game and learn more about how they move around the venue. While the Razorbacks have information on their ticket buyers, they hope to learn more about those fans inside the venue who might not be in Arkansas’ database.