U. of Texas Plans Its Own Sports Television Network

November 10, 2008

The University of Texas at Austin could be the first university to offer its own sports network for a wide audience and the latest entrant into the profitable field of televised college sports.

BusinessWeek reported last week that the university was negotiating with Time Warner, Comcast, and AT&T for distribution of the 24/7 sports network.

Texas boasts the biggest college-sports budget in the nation, an amount that reportedly exceeds $120-million a year, and the new sports network would broadcast a range of sports. “Texas has such an incredible fan base and such great content through all its sports programs that we feel a network like this will have a real following,” a senior vice president at IMG College told BusinessWeek. IMG College handles the university’s trademark licensing, marketing, and multimedia rights.

Televising college sports has attracted many new players in recent years, including College Sports Television, ESPNU, and Fox College Sports.

Big-time college-sports leagues have attempted to start their own networks, too. The Mountain West Conference started MountainWest Sports Network in 2006. The Big 10 Conference started its own sports network in 2007 through an agreement with Fox Cable Networks. The formation of that network initially created tension over the fees the Big 10 wanted to charge companies to carry the network.

It remains to be seen how much a Texas sports network could bring to the university. “The revenue pie for college sports stays essentially the same, but they keep slicing it up,” one television consultant told BusinessWeek. —Kate Moser