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Kansas Jayhawk Network: Coming to a Cable System Near You

Kansas is the latest to take advantage of the Big 12's lack of a conference network by selling its third tier rights - while also preparing for the new distribution methods in the digital age.

Jamie Squire

With very litle fanfare, the Kansas Jayhawks moved deeper into the digital age when they announced an agreement with IMG to sell their third tier rights to Time Warner and ESPN3.

The Jayhawks will get anywhere from $6 to $7 million a year through IMG for its third tier rights, but more importantly they will have regional and national outlets for their programming with none of the pain and suffering that has accompanied the Longhorn Network. Additionally they have positioned themselves to take advantage of the shifting methods of delivery as more and more viewers "cut the cord" of cable TV.

Time Warner will call it "The Jayhawk Network " in Kansas, but it will not be a 24-hour channel. It will carry over 300 hours of original programming including at least one football and six men's basketball games. Of course, it is basketball that is driving the deal, one that Dennis Dodds of CBSsports calls the most attractive entity left in college sports.

Time Warner will carry the "Kansas Jayhawk Network" on its basic cable tier in Kansas, including the attractive Kansas City market. Kansas fans will be able to access it throughout the Time-Warner system nationally as a part of Video On Demand.

That means unless things change soon, more Austin viewers will be able to tune in The Jayhawk Insider than Rewind with Mack Brown on the Longhorn Network.

The Time Warner agreement gives Kansas a regional stronghold for its programming, but the really forward thinking part of the arrangement is the contract with ESPN3. The digital network will be the national carrier for the 50 live events that Time Warner carries in Kansas.

ESPN3, which is available in over 85 million homes, will have an additional 20 live events to distribute as well.

The contract puts a good chunk of change in the pockets of the Jayhawks while giving them a national presence with very little risk.

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," Kansas Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger said. "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."

The agreement also puts Kansas in a great position to take advantage of the industry movement away from distributing content through some method other than a cable cord.

With ESPN3, Kansas content will be available through any number of platforms - smartphones, tablets, WatchESPN or XBOX.

As both Google and Apple move towards ultra-high speed internet delivery, these venues will offer a high quality view and will take over more and more of the market.

This digital deal helps keep Kansas in the forefront of the movement since Kansas City is the first of two test markets to roll out the high-speed Google Fiber Internet Service.

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