The University of Tennessee Athletic Department announced last Thursday that Host Communications has been awarded the department’s multimedia rights. The deal, which is worth an estimated $83.4 million over a 10-year period, will run from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2017.
“We had five great sports marketing companies vying for the opportunity to partner with The University of Tennessee,” men’s Athletic Director Mike Hamilton said. “In the end, we believed Host Communications provided the most comprehensive package of benefits to the University.
“Their financial offer, the operational plan to make sure that we continue to deliver the best products possible to our fans and a well thought out sustainable business model were the key factors in our decision.”
Host Communications will deliver guaranteed revenue and capital enhancements that will exceed $83 million over the 10-year term of the agreement, including $68 million in guaranteed rights fees and $15.4 million in investment capital and capital enhancements to include the addition of LED ribbon board at Neyland Stadium, LED equipment at Thompson-Boling Arena, updated video production equipment, and additional funding to apply towards upgrades of the existing video board at Neyland Stadium.
The new deal increases the Athletic Department’s average annual guaranteed rights fees to $6.8 million, which represents an increase of 168 percent over the current guaranteed rights fees agreement.
“The opportunity to represent a storied school like Tennessee doesn’t come along every day, so we made the decision to put an extraordinary offer before the University,” said Tom Stultz, president and chief executive officer of Host Communications. “We feel the proposal we made to UT is unique.
“Few, if any, sports marketing models have encompassed so many elements. From the financial guarantee to the capital investments to the futuristic programming, we made certain that we covered all the bases.”
The decision was made by an 11-member committee of members from both athletics and academics, including men's Athletic Director Mike Hamilton, the UT System's Executive Vice President Jack Britt and the UT System's Chief Financial Officer Gary Rogers. UT also brought in Bill Schmidt as an outside consultant.
Schmidt, who currently serves as president of Pegasus Marketing, has experience with all elements of sponsorships and media rights fees. He has negotiated contracts for sponsorships and media rights with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and NASCAR and signed Michael Jordan while at Gatorade.
“Host won the multimedia rights with a thoroughly defined, well presented and financially deliverable bid,” Schmidt said. “The companies that presented were extremely competitive, very creative and understood the benefits of having Tennessee’s athletic programs in their portfolio.”
Host Communications, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., has been the primary rights holders at The University of Tennessee for the past 17 years. Under the new deal, Host will continue to be responsible for development, production and transmission of radio broadcasts of UT's games, including a 90-minute pre-game and 90-minute post-game football show; all men's and women's basketball games, including minimum 30-minute pre-game and post-game shows; all SEC baseball games and all Tennessee post-season softball games.
The multimedia package also requires 46 radio shows and 40 television shows, mostly involving UT's coaches Phillip Fulmer, Pat Summitt and Bruce Pearl as well as items ranging from video and DVD products, official Internet sites, posters and various game-day publications. The new contract will give Host added responsibility for the advertising signage at Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling as well as at UT's soccer, baseball, softball and track venues.
“Host has been a great partner for us for more than 17 years and has really done a tremendous job of promoting women’s athletics through the addition of the Lady Vol Network. We’re looking forward to continuing that partnership for 10 more years,” women’s Athletics Director Joan Cronan said.
Currently three entities have different areas of UT’s marketing and sponsorship areas — Host, Action Sports Media and the athletic department’s sales and marketing department. The new agreement will allow UT to consolidate sponsorships and inventory to enhance its offerings to corporate partners and increase revenue for UT Athletics.
“We have always felt the mission statement of the Vol Network is to communicate the present while celebrating the past. This new agreement which bundles all of the rights under the Vol Network umbrella will give us an even greater platform to accomplish this,” said Steve Early, vice president and general manager for Host Communications/Vol Network.
Host Communications has similar contracts with the University of Arizona, Florida State University, University of Kentucky, the University of Michigan, Oklahoma State University, the University of Texas and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). In the past 18 months, Host has secured long-term contract extensions with Kentucky, Texas and the SEC.