Originally published January 19, 2011 at 12:57p.m., updated January 20, 2011 at 12:00a.m.

University of Texas reaches 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN


— The University of Texas, which already has one of the wealthiest athletic programs in the country, is lining up for even more money.

Texas and ESPN announced a 20-year, $300 million deal Wednesday for a 24-hour television network that will broadcast Longhorns sports, including at least one football game and eight basketball games per season, and other sports and academic content.

“We want to define what it means to be ’the’ public university,” Texas President William Powers said. “The challenge is to create new sources of revenue to support our mission.”

The deal includes Texas’ licensing and marketing partner IMG College, with more than 80 percent of revenue set to go to the university. It will not replace existing television deals between the Big 12 and both ESPN-ABC and Fox.

ESPN will handle distribution of the still-unnamed network via cable or satellite in Texas and other states and already has had preliminary conversations with Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp.

The network is scheduled to launch in September and will broadcast at least 200 Texas sporting events per year.

The contact also raises the question of whether Texas would consider going independent if the network proves successful. The Big 12 will drop to 10 members in July when it loses Colorado (Pac 12) and Nebraska (Big Ten).

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said Texas is not going independent.

“Absolutely no. There’s no thought of moving, no thought of being an independent,” Dodds said. “We love our conference.”


KU79 11 years, 5 months ago

It's every man (college) for themselves. Makes me want to puke. I understand the "new reality" of college athletics, especially the Big Texas, err, I mean Big 12, but that's not what a "conference" is supposed to be about.

KU79 11 years, 5 months ago

It's every man (college) for themselves. Makes me want to puke. I understand the "new reality" of college athletics, especially the Big Texas, err, I mean Big 12, but that's not what a "conference" is supposed to be about.

William Daniels 11 years, 5 months ago

Does this materially affect the pull of a Big 12 TV contract? If so, all other schools besides Texas look stupid for saving the Big 12 because they thought Texas would lend their financial pull to the league.

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

No - the Big 12 schools still share revenue from their league deals on TV. Now Texas gets extra money on top of it from this deal. OU is close to having its own network as well. One could argue that the next league TV deal will be better because Texas is involved, but really, the rich just got a whole lot richer.

William Daniels 11 years, 5 months ago

Yes, there is lopsided revenue sharing for league deals, but my point is this: It seems that if Texas lands this deal for their games to be broadcast on a network exclusively for Texas that means their games are not included in a Big 12 TV package. Therefore, the Big 12 package will not be as valuable, directly impacting KU and the other schools bottom line. I don't know enough detail about this deal to know if this is the case, but just wondering.

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

Texas would still be a big part of any Big 12 TV package. They would broadcast some football games, likely those that would have previously been on pay-per-view, but the big ones would still be on ESPN and ABC. ESPN wouldn't want to limit the audience - that would mean it couldn't charge as much for advertisements. KU is a small part of the Big 12 Network for basketball. Currently only a couple of games air on it, while the rest are on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU - same idea.

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

The agreement does not replace existing contracts involving ESPN-ABC and Fox for sports content of the Big 12 Conference, of which UT is a member. Powers said he anticipates that the new network would carry one or two football games, a larger but unspecified number of men’s basketball games and a variety of other men’s and women’s sports, including volleyball and swimming.


kureignman 11 years, 5 months ago

Yes and Texas is acting like Globo Gym.

White Goodman: Here at Globo Gym we're better than you, and we know it.

Steve Gantz 11 years, 5 months ago

If the NCAA were smart, which we know they aren't, they would step in and say no way. On the other hand, Notre Dame's sweetheart deal with NBC hasn't made them competitive, it seems like it's had the opposite effect. Will that happen to Texas too?

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

Notre Dame's deal with NBC isn't near what Big Ten schools get from their network or what Texas is getting from ESPN. And money doesn't make you better on the field unless you use it to hire quality coaches. Texas has Notre Dame beat in that category already.

Andrew Ralls 11 years, 5 months ago

Years ago, the NCAA tried to limit the number of football games each team could broadcast on TV and was smacked down (a legal term) by the SCOTUS on antitrust grounds. Naked restraints of trade (basically output of televised games in this case) might fall under the same cause of action.

DevilHawk 11 years, 5 months ago

The NCAA itself is a slew of antitrust issues before you even get into analyzing the specifics of any antitrust case involving the NCAA.

The NCAA probably couldn't do anything, but antitrust is a fickle area of law and is mostly determined (currently) on a case-by-case basis. In this situation and in consideration of the economics involved, the NCAA might be in a good position to sue UT and/or ESPN on the basis of violating antitrust principles. Highly unlikely, but it might be possible.

Andrew Ralls 11 years, 5 months ago

Under what cause of action would the NCAA sue?

Kevin Crook 11 years, 5 months ago

The Big 12 will turn into the Yankees and Red Sox against the Royals before it is all over. Texas and OU will always be able to outbid other schools for the best coaches, facilities, trainers, etc. It may not be right away, but we can already see how KU and other schools struggle to compete in other sports against the wealthier schools with much larger athletic budgets. KU's AD will be like a New York Life agent, always asking for and looking for money, the schools with money will be focusing on athletics. I would have preferred to have seen how it would have all played out if we had not given up the farm to Texas and OU when CU and NU bolted. One door closes other doors open. Will we ever be consistently competitive with the "lower 6" in football? Probably not, moving to another conference might have been a blessing. Bill Self and the Morris twins are still awesome, even competing in the Mountain West.

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

It may take a few years, but I think KU can compete in football. Not with UT and OU, but with the others, yes.

DevilHawk 11 years, 5 months ago

KU "struggles" to compete because the school usually doesn't attempt to compete - except in basketball.

The exact same thing can be said about the Royals: they rarely try to put the necessary money together to keep key players. In turn, the Royals serve as nothing more than a glorified farm team.

midhawktx 11 years, 5 months ago

Maybe KU and KSU should merge for their own network. Won't bring in Texas money but may be able to re-coup all the money we paid those dorky Texans to stay in the Big 12(10). I do want to make sure I have this correct: KU and the other north dwarfs gave up a certain amount of our Big 12 TV revenue to pay the Texas schools to stay in the conference. Then, the schools that are getting our portion of $$ made a TV deal to get more $$. How fast can we get out of the Big 12? We look pathetic.

William Daniels 11 years, 5 months ago

We definitely look pathetic. We need to throw our weight around some more and get some results. This is ridiculous.

tpatt 11 years, 5 months ago

What weight would that be ? All that matters is football. We suck at that, and will continue to be the door matt of the Big 12 (10). We should have bolted for the Big East when we could have, they care about basketball there.

DevilHawk 11 years, 5 months ago

No, all that matters are TV markets.

The networks judge value based on the number of TVs and households in a city and possible viewers, rather than the number of likely/actual viewers across the country.

KU should actually benefit significantly from the growing market of internet tv in conjunction with faster internet connections.

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

This is the key - 25 million people in Texas. Two million people in Kansas. And millions more UT fans/alums across the country.

lawrence_is_my_middle_name 11 years, 5 months ago

Exactly, otherwise wouldn't these major conferences be salivating to get their hands on Boise State? Doesn't matter how good the Broncos are, all that matters is that no one lives in Idaho.

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

The population and subscriber base in Kansas wouldn't come close to what Texas has. And both schools lack the money to purchase equipment, pay salaries and acquire satellite time for such a venture. Leaving the Big 12 is an option, but shouldn't be rushed into.

midhawktx 11 years, 5 months ago

Forgive me as I'm not an expert on this, but the schools are responsible for buying the equipment? I figured ESPN was. I know we wouldn't get as much as $15 mil a year, but how about $2 mil a year? That is about par for the fraction of the population, plus merging both schools equals the amount at Texas.

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

In this case, ESPN pays for production costs and a studio. I read that OU was looking into purchasing its own equipment, but maybe ESPN will cover them, too.

More info in this story:

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

You equal the student population, but not the state's population. Texas has 25 million residents, Kansas has two million. Granted, not all Texans are Longhorn fans, but there are millions who are.

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

I wish - we need to focus on improving the football program - and baseball, softball, women's basketball, etc. Can't flourish on men's hoops alone.

e93bigd 11 years, 5 months ago

In what other world do the rich not get richer? Football is king and it's not going to change any time soon. The only way to improve our status is to build the football program. We already have one of the best basketball programs and look where that almost got us. Joining up with the Mountain West. Also, go back and read the articles, we didn't give up revenue to Texas schools.

midhawktx 11 years, 5 months ago

I've read all the articles and in each, we gave up $2 mil a year in TV revenues to pay to the South schools to stay. Or something like that.

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

That was mostly ceremonial - ADs at UT and OU have since said it's not necessary. Given the announcement today, you can see why. Only A&M has brought it up. Greedy Aggies.

bradynsdad 11 years, 5 months ago

I work with a huge republican who thinks rich people shouldn't get taxed because they earned their money. Now when it comes to conference he is a Nebraska fan who thinks spreading the wealth evenly is the best thing to do. This guy is a hippocritical idiot. I think it's good to spread the money evenly but I wonder would my opinion be the same if ku lead the nation in highest revenue by twenty million? That's right last year Texas brought in 120 million over second place Ohio states 101 million. I am not a Texas fan but what is fair?

Michael Leiker 11 years, 5 months ago

You might want to give your coworker a bit of a break. Revenue sharing in college sports and personal income taxes are two pretty distinctly separate topics. And what does fair have to do with anything? If everything was going to be your supposed version of "fair" why would schools even bother going out marketing their programs to just turn around and give their hard earned gains away.

On second thought, I think you're right on about it being similar to the tax argument. No incentive = no revenue/smaller pie. Partial/minimal revenue sharing = incentives to increase your share of the pie, and consequentially the pie as a whole.

Michael Leiker 11 years, 5 months ago

In other words KU is better off by being in a league with a rich UT, just like we're better off living in a country with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet than we would be living in some communist eutopia.

rpboy06 11 years, 5 months ago

Rumor has it KU is getting its own basketball network. ESPN will only broadcast KU basketball on their network and will run replays from the previous 20 years when live games are not being broadcasted. Jay Bilas reports that 80% of the revenue will be given to KU and Dick Vitale's contract will be terminated since no Duke/NC games will be broadcasted.

Chicago_JHawk 11 years, 5 months ago

For those that wanted the Big 12 to stick together for the forseeable future, this is what had to happen. Texas would have to terminate this deal to join most other conferences that require even sharing (Big 10, SEC, etc), so they'll stick it out.

jayhawk1996 11 years, 5 months ago

Yup - only way they leave this league is to go independent.

OldOldHawk 11 years, 5 months ago

Chicago: I think you have just hit the nail sqaurely on the head.

Omari Miller 11 years, 5 months ago

Does this mean that we'll now hear ESPN analysts talking about how great Texas is in everything all the time, a la their Big East Treatment?

e93bigd 11 years, 5 months ago

This type of deal will pretty much mean the end of relevant Kansas football. Look at how big money dictates or at least reinforces where the good teams are. The SEC has the biggest TV contract - 5 straight national titles. Now Texas can get their own TV deal even though they are part of a conference. OU is next. Do you think anyone else in our conference will be able to keep up? How about when other big schools do the same - USC, Ohio St, etc?

Funhawk 11 years, 5 months ago

Definition of COATTAIL

plural : the influence or pulling power of a popular movement or person (as a political candidate)

  1. As a result of the success of another: elected to office on the coattails of a popular governor.
  2. Immediately following or as a direct result of: resigned on the coattails of the scandal.

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 5 months ago

could this deal and possible ou deal be something that might entice other schools to jump to the big 12?

kesmithstl1 11 years, 5 months ago

good point! Maybe Notre Dame? (It should be noted I just threw out a name which has no merit)

I don't get what the big deal is. Look, KU football will never compete with Texas football, or OU football. With this type of deal for Texas though, KU and the other remaining Big XII schools will be forced to rise up to compete. Either that, or win 3 games just like this past year.

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 5 months ago

yeah maybe nd, a rouge sec team, maybe byu, i guess i don't get what this really means. so far as i can tell it means we will not be able to compete with texas and ou in football. shocker!

kesmithstl1 11 years, 5 months ago

I think it means the Big XII is willing to allow schools to have their own TV contracts, which is great! It also means KU doesn't have to join the Missouri Valley because Texas isn't going anywhere now!

Kevin Kelly 11 years, 5 months ago

Bingo. This is what actually SAVED the big 12 guys. If you want to do something about it....BUY SOME FOOTBALL TICKETS AND THEN ATTEND THE GAME AND THEN CHEER AT THE GAME.

Also....its fair. We can go out and get any contract we want too. Don't hate the player...and don't even hate the game.....PLAY THE GAME YOU FOOLS. This is the kind of confrence structure that is going to make us desireable to teams like BYU and ND because we don't ask them to share.

Being in a 'fair' confrence when the rest of the world isn't fair is just dumb. Unless we are talking playoffs then I want my confrence to have the biggest teams with the biggest stacks of cash.

Ludwig Supraphonic 11 years, 5 months ago

Big TV payouts require viewers. UT needs interesting games to continue to be marketable. Our key in remaining a viable Big 12 member is to develop a competitive football program. Sure, alumni and a hardcore fan base will watch anything related to their team. To sell Budwiser, games need sufficient buzz to attract a wide audience. People in big markets watch Boise State to see how it affects their team's BCS standing. A Nevada /Boise State game is of viewer interest because of its impact; not just the limited fanbase of their states and alumni. We have a chance at a good marketshare because of the interest of games in states (e.g., Texas) with a larger potential fanbase. The Big 12 allows the opportunity to be relevant. Our challenge is to provide an interesting product. 1-7 is not going to get it.

Jaminrawk 11 years, 5 months ago

It'll be awesome for them pay to watch classic TV showcasing how close they've come to winning conference titles in football and basketball only to be thwarted time and time again by OU and Kansas.

Michael Leiker 11 years, 5 months ago

Until you can pay players to play college sports KU will continue to be better off being in a league with the richest of the rich. The more money UT and OU have and the more influence they carry the stronger the BIG XII will be.

The marginal return in terms of wins and losses that incrementally higher revenue generates becomes smaller and smaller the greater the actual revenue figure becomes. Overall this is a very good thing for Kansas.

brcook99 11 years, 5 months ago

Time to dissolve the Big 12.

If KU only gets $17 million a year and another school in the same conference gets around $40 million a year then something is wrong.

Imagine what an entire Big 12 network could have gotten if you included the OU, A&M, KU, and Mizzou fan bases into the network coverage area.

Time to dissolve the Big 12.

And please no one say that KU needs to stick with K-State if we need to jump to another BCS conference...

Pitthawk34 11 years, 5 months ago

This question may have already been asked but lets say that KU is on the texas network in any sport. Will KU receive any money since their brand is being shown on the texas network or will we be bent over and have to take it.

jhawk314 11 years, 5 months ago

The Big XII I believe needs to add a few teams and balance out the North and South, just imagine if the Big Xll went out and got teams like Boise and Notre Dame and added them to the North

North: South: Boise State Texas Notre Dame Oklahoma
Kansas Texas A&M
Mizzou Oklahoma State Kansas State Texas Tech Iowa State Baylor

Those conferences look pretty balanced to me, and if we cant snag ND, maybe we grab Arkansas and move Oklahoma to the North and Arkansas to the South

Jeff Coffman 11 years, 5 months ago

Boise State...really...there is no money behind BSU, they are lucky to be going to the MWC. They don't bring a TV market that would increase the television contract. Additionally, our travel costs for that single team would be ugly. Who wants to go to Idaho in the winter.

Jeff Coffman 11 years, 5 months ago

I think of this as a totally different manner. KU was never going to compete against Texas for most revenue. There is a $250 MM contract for the Big XII. Because of different revenue sharing models, basically if you are on TV you make more. UT and OU were guaranteed $20 MM per year. With 12 schools the avg is just over $20 MM/year. KU was getting about $7 MM/year. After the advent of 2 schools leaving, it actually pushes the total as $25MM / year. It turns out that KU actually gets about $17 MM/year now, and UT and OU get closer to $28 MM/year. Everyone gets more.

So now you add a $300/MM over 20 years, so approximately $15MM more per year. 80% goes to UT, so an additional $12MM per year to UT, so now they get about $40MM per year. Of the remaining $3MM/year KU will get probably a half of million. We now will get between $16-$20MM per year compared to our previous $7 MM. We will get similar amounts from the OU deal.

Remember that the Big 10 get approximately $22MM/year for 11 teams (22*11=$242 approximately). So now with a twelth team they will get about $20MM/year. Ultimately, I look at this as even the lower tier teams will be close to what the Big 10 are getting.

So as UT and OU get more, if KU and other stay as average in the Big XII they will be comparative to the Big 10, additionally, the Big XII deal is based on TV appearances, so a year like 2008, would push us closer to the $27MM/year. I don't expect a lot of those, but what I do see, is that KU is getting as much as Big 10 numbers. Additionally, the SEC runs similar numbers as well as the PAC 10.

Having Texas as the salesperson actually sells well for the Big XII.

The key that most of the conferences have failed to recognize is that additional teams coming into the Big XII will need to bring at least $20MM/year to the contract else it hurts us. I've only heard one team that could make that impact, of course that is ND. I'm not convinced that BYU or Arkansas bring in that impact and therefore won't be an option. Remember in the SEC Arkansas gets $20MM regardless of what they do.

Ultimately, I think these deals actually help KU as I would say a less historically relevant football team, to actually giving us the ability to compete.

Bear86 11 years, 5 months ago

Ultimately you think these deals help KU? Put down the crack pipe. Texas held a gun to the Big 12 conference this summer and got everything it wanted. I respect NU for telling them to shove it and left for a real conference where every team shares revenue equally. That is what being in a conference is all about. The fact that KU and the other schools that were going to get left out in the cold had to pay Texas to stay makes me sick. I will never forget what Texas did to the Big 12 conference and how it impacted KU. F-Texas !!!!! I hope we get the hell out of this F-upd conference. F-Texas!!!! F-Texas!!! F-Texas!!!

Dale Kroening 11 years, 5 months ago

Letting UT and OU have their own networks is what kept them in the Big12, anyone who didnt see this coming is blind. It was a major sticking point for both schools when negotiations were going on to keep the conference together.

Pitthawk34 11 years, 5 months ago

I have no issue with TX and OU having their own networks. I also completely understand and agree that they deserve more money in the contract. Lets be honest they bring more to the table.I just did not feel it was fair for such network to show a matchup with KU or any other big 12 team in that matter without some sort of compensation. So it is my understaning that when KU plays Texas and it is on the Texas network KU would receive some compensation fo showing the KU brand on their network?

Josh Galler 11 years, 5 months ago

Forget the money thing. Yes money thing is big, but unless NCAA change scholarship players on teams, other schools will still able to complete on the field or court.

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 5 months ago

how about the little guys taking down the big dogs. Ku and mu jump to the big east giving it 12 teams (two decent markets in kc and stl) and leaving the big 12 with only 8 teams. Forcing Texas to have to drop their deal and join the beast that is the sec. Or makes them run to west coast obscurity in the PAC 10.

Or dream scenario, neither conference picks texas up. Which collapses the giant letting others pilfer the states talent.

Brian Skelly 11 years, 5 months ago

I dont foresee UT jumping ship anytime soon. They get a competitive schedule against arch rivals (and others such as us) annually with no effort whatsoever. It appears that OU is going to get something along these lines soon, if not the same dollars as UT is getting. No other conference would accept these side deals, and turning independent for the reasons they want (in theory more exposure, but who needs that if you've got ESPN shelling in the $$$) seems like folly. They get the best of both worlds right now. Conference security and its own side deal. There's NO downside for them. None. The question is the fore bearer of what we're going to see in college sports or are we going to see more Conferences do this for each member.

KU isnt all that attractive for TV networks unless its Mens Hoops team is playing. And lets face it, we're on one of ESPNs networks nearly weekly. Even if ESPN threw us a bone giving us 5 million per (as opposed to 15 million per for UT) to give us our own auxillary network, we'd jump at before the ink could dry.

The reality is the Big 12-2 is going to be this way now. KU getting whatever the hell it can outta it... by putting its best foot forward (Mens Hoops) is really its best shot and securing something comparable. To some degree they already do this --- virtually ALL KU games are at least on Full Court or above (ESPNs other networks).

I DONT believe there is going to be a lot more seismic shifting with the Conferences, at least not in the next several years. Powers that be in TV and the Sports world did LOTS of backroom discussions and handshakes to keep the Big 12 together ostensibly because them blowing up wasnt good for anyone involved. ESPN left more piles of cash on the table for the Big12 despite losing two schools... knowing well and good Fox would be ready to pounce if they broke out.

Im not nearly as concerned about this as a lot of folks. UT and OU were, are, and will continue to be the top 'brand names' in Big 12 sports (for football of course --- the drawing card). The reality is, I can see KU taking advantage of its 'brand' (hoops) and getting some deal outta ESPN comparable in structure, if not dollars to UTs. It will likely PALE in comparison to UTs... but that would STILL be better than nothing and just what we get from the conference dollars.

I do believe the new AD needs to be proactive with this though. We'll see what happens.

e93bigd 11 years, 5 months ago

I agree with your point about Texas. Why would they leave the conference when they have the best deal possible? Conference money, quality opponents, and a separate TV deal to maximize their revenue.

I suspect this is the first and last "big" single-school TV deal. There may be more deals and possibly with other networks but why would they do it? I'm not in the business but it's got to be much more profitable to get conference TV rights instead of single schools. How much advertising are they going to sell when airing the women's volleyball coach's show?

That being said, the conference is still on shaky ground because of what the other schools might do. If OU and A&M decide to join other conferences, it's over. They might not even get more money to move but I'm sure they are extremely bitter (as probably most of us are) about the monetary and recruiting advantage that Texas now owns.

At least KU has a basketball team to make us somewhat attractive to other conferences but, as we saw last summer, we are probably relegated to something like the Mountain West if the Big 12 dissolves. I live in Texas but will grit my teeth and accept our situation because I'm afraid it can only get worse.

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