Texas officials have scheduled a news conference for this afternoon in Austin to announce a 20-year, $300 million agreement with ESPN to create a 24-hour network that will carry Longhorn sports programming and some non-athletics related content.
Discussions have been ongoing for months and the ability for the school to create its own programming network proved pivotal in Texas’ decision to remain in the Big 12 last June, when conference rivals Colorado and Nebraska announced plans to join other leagues, effective in the 2011-12 school year.
The new network is expected to be operational this fall and, when coupled with Texas’ take from Big 12 revenues, should push the school’s annual TV revenues close to $30 million.
Financial terms of the agreement were reported today by the Austin American-Statesman, with university president William Powers, Jr. detailing the breakdown with ESPN and IMG College, a company that handles marketing and licensing for the school. According to the report, ESPN has guaranteed $300 million, with 82.5 percent of that figure -- $247.5 million – earmarked for the university and IMG assured of 17.5 percent of the total ($52.5 million).
Powers said the school is guaranteed roughly $10 million per year for the first five years of the agreement, with larger payments expected in later years.
The agreement will provide Texas with TV revenues in addition to the money the school receives from existing contracts between the Big 12 and its TV partners for sporting events (ESPN-ABC and Fox).
Powers said a likely scenario would have the Longhorns’ network showing one or two football games per year, with a larger number of men’s basketball games in the mix. The majority of the sports programming would involve Olympic sports, such as volleyball and swimming.
_ Jimmy Burch