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January 24, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC, January 24, 2011 — The University of Texas at Austin, ESPN and UT Athletics' multimedia rights partner IMG College have announced a 20-year agreement to create what soon will be the nation's largest 24-hour television network dedicated to covering a university's intercollegiate athletics, music, cultural arts and academic programs. Covington represented IMG College on this transaction.
The still unnamed channel has a target start date of September 2011 and will be the top branding asset for the university in exposure and value, as ESPN will pay a $300 million guaranteed rights fee over 20 years to the university and to IMG College (which in 1998 acquired the university's third-tier sports programming rights). The new network will be made available to cable, satellite and telecommunications distributors within state, regional and national markets. The deal also includes the possibility of other digital and broadband distribution of some events.
Corporate partner Peter Zern led the Covington team on the transaction.
The Covington sports transactions group is led in the US by Bruce Wilson, Doug Gibson, and Mr. Zern. Other recent matters the group has handled include representing Christopher Cohan in the sale of the Golden State Warriors, representing the NFL in its groundbreaking sponsorship and content deal with Verizon Wireless, advising the National Hockey League in the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning, advising Turner Broadcasting in its $10.8 billion, 14-year television and new media rights agreement with the NCAA and CBS Sports to present the Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship, and advising the Independent Advisory Committee of the U.S. Olympic Committee, chaired by Covington’s Paul Tagliabue, in its assessment of the board structure and operations model of the USOC.