Archive for Tuesday, June 25, 2013

KU Athletics, ESPN announce rights agreement

June 25, 2013, 10:20 a.m. Updated June 25, 2013, 10:16 p.m.

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Part II of Kansas University’s plan to expand its televised offerings on the Jayhawk Network includes a deal with ESPN, with live KU events now slated to be broadcast nationwide on ESPN3.

In a press release Tuesday, KU officials announced a seven-year deal between KU and the media giant that will begin in the 2013-14 academic year. Under the agreement, ESPN3, a multiscreen channel available nationwide through Internet providers, will carry a minimum of 70 live events each year. It is one of the largest deals ESPN has signed to date, according to the release. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Last week’s announcement of a partnership between Kansas Athletics and Time Warner Cable and Kansas City’s Metro Sports received a lukewarm response from fans, but KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said he hoped seeing the rest of the pieces fall into place would make fans of all KU sports teams a little more excited about what the future holds for KU broadcasts across all media.

“From the start of this process, our goals were to saturate the Kansas City market, distribute Kansas programming throughout the state and make our live events available nationally,” Zenger said in the release. “We are meeting these goals through agreements like these with ESPN and Time Warner Cable. Both are significant steps for Kansas Athletics and we are excited about the future for all Jayhawk fans — wherever they may be watching.”

Part I of the deal, which indicated that Time Warner and Metro Sports would provide live coverage of 50 KU sporting events to homes throughout Kansas on various media outlets, made KU the final Big 12 Conference school to sign a contract concerning its Tier-3 television rights. Part II of the deal makes KU just the second Big 12 school to have an affiliation with ESPN, joining Texas’ Longhorn Network.

The news of ESPN’s involvement also connects the two parts of the deal.

ESPN3 will broadcast nationally the 50 events outlined in the original deal (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) and also exclusively carry a minimum of 20 additional contests that will be viewable nationwide, as well as in Kansas City and throughout Kansas.

ESPN3 is available in more than 85 million homes nationwide to fans who receive their Internet or TV subscription from an affiliated provider. It is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and through connected TVs, via ESPN on Xbox LIVE as well as Apple TV.

The release said that the 70-event schedule was to include one regular-season football game, the football spring game, six men’s basketball games (including two exhibition games) and basketball’s Late Night in the Phog, as well as 16 women’s basketball games. ESPN3 will also broadcast the Kansas Relays and multiple volleyball, baseball, softball and women’s soccer games.

“ESPN3 continues to serve as a destination for college sports fans, and our agreement with Kansas Athletics extends that commitment,” said John Lasker, ESPN’s vice president of programming and acquisitions. “We look forward to delivering these live events to the KU fan base.”


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