Orangebloods.com and several other outlets are now reporting that ESPN and Texas have reached an agreement for distribution rights for the new Longhorn Network that will pay UT $12 million a year.
If accurate it is dramatically more money than originally thought to be available to UT and it will make the Longhorns the richest program in the NCAA in terms of media revenue. Sources are reporting that it is a 10-year distribution deal for a minimum of $12 million a year. The revenue is in addition to the Big 12 package, which ABC/ESPN also holds and which promises to pay $20 million a year.
First reports aren't clear if UT has any equity in the Longhorn Network, but it appears that ESPN and IMC College -- who is the media rights holder for Texas -- will own the network and make its money off of sales and distribution.
Schools in the SEC currently clear around $17 million a year in TV revenue, while Big 10 schools are making $20 Million. When the Pac 10 made its run at Texas and other Big 12 schools this summer they estimated that they would pay $18-20 million per year to each program. However, UT would have had to give up all rights to its own network venture.
The fall of 2011 is the target date for the rollout of the Longhorn Network. The reported deal between ESPN and UT could be ratified at the next Board of Regents meeting.
Fox was the other bidder for the Longhorn Network, but ESPN had more dollars and deeper experience in distribution and sales to spice up the deal for Texas. Aside from the money, being a part of the ESPN family will pay dividends in terms of credibility and public relatations as well.