Kansas Athletics and IMG College, along with Time Warner Cable and Kansas City’s Metro Sports, have teamed up on an endeavor that will bring Kansas University sports fans unprecedented access to KU athletics during the coming year and well into the future.
The deal, which will provide live coverage of KU sporting events to homes throughout Kansas on various media outlets, makes KU the final Big 12 Conference school to sign a contract concerning its Tier-3 television rights, which were a sticking point for the Big 12 throughout the conference realignment movement during the past couple of summers.
Texas is affiliated with the ESPN-backed Longhorn Network; Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech have deals with Fox; and Iowa State and West Virginia have agreements with Mediacom and ROOT in their respective markets.
KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said the deal to expand KU’s broadcasting efforts had been in the works for a while and added that being the last university to sign on the dotted line did not hurt KU in any way.
“This is Kansas,” Zenger told the Journal-World on Monday. “And Kansas ought to be doing something like this. When Time Warner Cable approached us with this concept, we knew, if done right, it could greatly benefit Kansas Athletics and our fan base. We are eager to work with Metro Sports to bring this exciting concept to life.”
Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, Metro Sports will televise more than 50 live KU events on the revamped Jayhawk Network and also provide 600 hours of additional “shoulder” programing, which will include pre- and post-game shows for Jayhawk football and men’s basketball games, a weekly magazine-style show, “Hawk Talk” radio show simulcasts, a social-media-centered show for fans, live coverage of news conferences, a “Jayhawk Rewind” highlight show, a quarterly “Jayhawk Legends” series and quarterly KU academic specials.
Because of the Big 12 Conference’s television agreement with ESPN and Fox Sports, the live-game broadcasts on Metro Sports will be offered only to viewers in the state and the Kansas City metro area, but the additional shoulder programing will be available to Time Warner’s millions of customers nationwide.
The fact that the Tier-3 deal is a joint effort with an already established network makes it so KU will not be responsible for providing programing 24 hours a day and, instead, will be in a position to enhance its already strong presence in homes across the state.
“This is the backbone of providing Jayhawk fans with access to all of our sports in a way that they’ve never experienced before,” Zenger said of the deal.
Perhaps the best part for KU is that today’s announcement appears to be one that could grow into something bigger and better down the road.
KU administrators Todd Kober, Jim Marchiony and Larry Keating worked closely with Jason Booker, general manager for Jayhawk IMG Sports Marketing, to bring the Jayhawk Network into the modern era and bring more exposure to KU’s entire athletic department.
“This will extend the Jayhawk brand significantly while providing corporate partners with many new ways to support the Jayhawks and reach one of the most attractive and passionate fan bases in college sports,” Booker said.
During upcoming sports year, the new-and-improved Jayhawk Network will provide coverage of one football game, six men’s basketball games, as many as 16 women’s basketball games, nine volleyball matches, eight baseball games and up to 12 live softball, soccer and track and field events.