KU, ESPN sign $40 million TV deal

ESPN Regional Television has sweetened its existing contract with Kansas University’s athletic department.

KU officials on Thursday announced a seven-year, $40.2 million extension to the current agreement, which, since July 1999, has granted ESPN Regional Television the Jayhawks’ athletics corporate partnership and multimedia rights.

The new agreement, which the Journal-World first reported in March, will provide KU $5.74 million per year for the next seven years, compared with $1.86 million a year under the old contract.

“We are very pleased with this new agreement,” KU Athletic Director Lew Perkins said of the deal, which will help provide money for a new Allen Fieldhouse center scoreboard, which is expected to feature four video boards.

Perkins added: “We appreciate ESPN’s recognition of the value of Kansas athletics and the financial commitment it made. ESPN Regional and KU athletics have established an excellent partnership over the years and we feel this extension serves both parties extremely well.”

Under the agreement, ESPN Regional will continue to provide a variety of services to KU athletics.

They include developing and selling corporate sponsorships, producing and distributing TV and radio productions of KU athletics contests and ancillary programs (coaches’ shows, pre- and post-season specials), selling signage at selected KU athletics venues and providing in-stadium marketing.

“I think the average fan will not notice a difference,” said KU Associate AD Jim Marchiony. “ESPN Regional currently produces our radio and TV networks. In terms of TV that means the Jayhawk Network games in men’s basketball (shown on ESPN’s Full Court package), also women’s basketball. ESPN Regional produces and distributes the Jayhawk radio network as well. We’re very excited because this means ESPN Regional recognizes the value of KU athletics and was willing to make a financial commitment.”

The new agreement takes effect July 1, which would have been the beginning of the final year of the current contract.

“We are very excited to extend our agreement with the University of Kansas,” said Chuck Gerber, ESPN Regional Television executive vice president.

“Through this agreement, we continue our relationship with one of the country’s premier institutions and athletic programs,” he said. “Along with Lew Perkins and his staff, it is our goal to enhance the value of KU’s marketing opportunities and to assist the athletics department in achieving its goals.”