The University of Texas and sports programming giant ESPN have struck a deal that will create a 24-hour TV network that's all UT, all the time. The network will include more than just sports.
ESPN will pay the university $300 million over the next 20 years in exchange for the rights to provide programming for the cable network. In addition to sports, the network will air some academic and cultural programming - like musical performances - that originate on the UT campus.
ESPN Senior Vice President Burke Magnus says it's a new venture for the 31-year-old sports network, but an enticing one.
"Simply put, UT has among the most passionate fan base for any sports team, college or pro, in this nation," Magnus said. "Fans far and wide clamor for information about the school, their teams and their student-athletes."
UT President Bill Powers told reporters that money from the deal will benefit academic programs across campus, allowing the university to seek the best and brightest instructors to teach in Austin.
ESPN will build production facilities in Austin that they say will create 50-to-100 new jobs. The new network doesn't have a name yet, but it's targeted to launch this September.
Here's an email Powers sent to UT faculty, students and staff earlier this afternoon.
I’m delighted to announce the creation of a 24-hour television network dedicated to covering intercollegiate athletics, music, cultural arts, and academics at The University of Texas at Austin.
At UT Austin, we want to define what it means to be the public research university of the 21st century. One of the challenges we face is creating new forms of revenue to support our mission. The UT network is one example of this effort.
The new network is a partnership among UT Austin, ESPN, and IMG College, our multimedia rights marketing partner. We have signed a contract that will guarantee $300 million over 20 years to UT Austin and IMG College.
The UT network will not only showcase all our athletics programs — it will give the world an unparalleled view of our academic enterprise and the creative and innovative people within it. The network will produce television that shares our programs in the performing arts, the humanities, the sciences, and other disciplines.
During the first five years of the contract, UT will receive about $10 million per year. For these five years, half of that income will be devoted to academic and faculty support. The remainder will support UT Athletics. We will determine at a later date how the funds will be used beyond the initial five-year period.
We plan to use the academic half of the royalty payments to support faculty excellence. To start this process, today I am announcing that we will create two $1-million endowed faculty chairs — one in the Philosophy Department and the other in the Physics Department. In this way, the UT network will generate millions of dollars for academic and faculty support, and it will strengthen the ability of UT Athletics to be self-sustaining.
This network would not have been possible without the contributions of many people, especially without our strong and enduring bond with our friends, alumni, and fans. The UT family has no equal — and it’s a family that extends to almost every corner of the world. It is this loyalty and support that will make the network a success.
Our Men’s and Women’s Athletics Directors, DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky, were essential to the creation of the network, and I thank them. This network is the result of a vision DeLoss has pursued for many years. Creating this network is the culmination of that vision and is emblematic of the enormous contributions he has made to our University.
There is no model for the kind of network we’re creating, so we have our work cut out for us before the launch date in September 2011. I hope you will enjoy this opportunity to view a much wider assortment of programming from UT Austin. For more information about access to the UT network, contact your local television provider.
Hook ’em Horns!
The University of Texas at Austin