Reports are that UT and ESPN are just days away from finalizing a long-term deal that dramatically increases the yearly broadcast revenue stream for the program.
The TV, cable, and digital distribution deal would bring in at least $10 million and as much as $15 million a year to the Longhorn budget. UT Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds said, "We're very close. We're talking days instead of months or weeks."
The UT deal with ESPN is reported to be for 20 years, and would cover the broadcasting of non-athletic events.
UT President William Powers has made it clear that he envisions the Longhorn Network as a key outreach tool for the University as a whole -- not just athletics.
"Whether it's a football game or an opera, whether it's a series of courses on Greek history or commentary on the current economy, extending our outreach beyond our campus is always important to us," Powers said.
The added revenue from the Longhorn Network will boost the yearly income from broadcast rights to almost $35 million for Texas, which will only enhance their stature as the leading money maker in athletics among the nations' Universities.
Off the field last year, Texas reported revenues totally $143 million. Alabama was second with $129 million in athletics revenue.
When reports first surfaced of the proposed network, UT expected to recieve an additional $3 million in revenue on an annual basis. However, that was before ESPN entered into the bidding process.
And while the finanical numbers seem out of whack, they can make sense for ESPN. Meanwhile, it isn't just the money that makes this a winner for UT.
The concept of TV Everywhere is one of the new buzzwords in the industry. It simply means that soon cable operators will be able to distribute to their subscribers their signal on several different platforms, especially to broadband and mobile customers. ESPN is already at the forefront of this concept, and being connected with the WWL in this effort is a huge boost for the Texas program.
(We will have a post that goes into more detail as to why this deal works for both parties early next week.)