UK Awards Athletic Multimedia Rights

Contact: Mary Margaret Colliver

 

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Among the new initiatives offered by Wildcat Properties will be a “super” radio network that would air six to 10 of the men’s basketball broadcasts in markets throughout the country; 10 magazine-style television programs annually highlighting UK’s Olympic sports; the Daily Wildcat, a three-minute daily radio update on UK sports that will be distributed to all Big Blue Network affiliates; and live televising of select women’s basketball and baseball games and the Catspys, UK Athletics’ annual awards show that honors its student-athletes and coaches.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 12, 2004) -- The University of Kentucky has awarded Host Communications Inc. and Gray Television Inc. the university's expanded athletic multimedia marketing rights. Host, UK's radio and television rights’ holder for most of the past three decades, will team up with Lexington's top-rated television station, WKYT-TV, to pay the university $80.5 million over the 10 years of the agreement, making it one of the most lucrative deals of its kind in NCAA history.

Lexington-based Host Communications is a subsidiary of the Bull Run Corporation, while WKYT-TV is owned by Gray Television. Host has been UK's rights’ holder since 1974, except for a six-year period from 1977 to 1983, and WKYT-TV has been the flagship television station for the UK Network during that same period. The current agreement between UK and Host, which includes radio and TV rights to Kentucky's football and men's basketball games and the football game program, is worth $17.65 million over five years and expires April 15, 2005.

In addition to previous radio and TV rights, the new agreement adds women’s basketball and baseball radio and television broadcasts, corporate sponsorships, stadium and arena signage, and the official athletic Web site. UK is currently generating $5.1 million annually on the inventory included in the new agreement.

Host and WKYT-TV will manage the rights using its soon-to-be-established rights-sharing entity called Wildcat Properties. The agreement calls for Host/Gray to provide cash guarantees worth $79 million over the life of the contract, with an additional $1.5 million investment in new scoreboards for Memorial Coliseum and Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The agreement features a focus on the Big Blue Network, the school’s re-branded statewide radio network. Every football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and baseball game will be offered to all affiliates on the Big Blue Network.

Among the new initiatives offered by Wildcat Properties will be a “super” radio network that would air six to 10 of the men’s basketball broadcasts in markets throughout the country; 10 magazine-style television programs annually highlighting UK’s Olympic sports; the Daily Wildcat, a three-minute daily radio update on UK sports that will be distributed to all Big Blue Network affiliates; and live televising of select women’s basketball and baseball games and the Catspys, UK Athletics’ annual awards show that honors its student-athletes and coaches.

In its continuing commitment to support the university’s academic mission, UK Athletics will continue to provide the university at no cost premium radio and television advertising inventory, valued at $25 million over the life of the contract. As an example, the university receives two and a half minutes during halftime of each football and men’s basketball radio broadcast to promote its educational initiatives.

The Athletics Department will also contribute $1.36 million from this contract to help fund the university’s Singletary Scholarship program. This is in addition to the 10-year, $10 million Athletics’ commitment to fund general scholarships on campus.

“This is one of the largest athletics multimedia contracts in NCAA history because of the thousands of loyal Wildcat fans across the Commonwealth and around the world,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. “We are very pleased to be able to continue to work with two Kentucky-based companies and our long-time partners, Host and WKYT-TV, to expand the coverage of the Cats for our fans everywhere.

“I'm also appreciative of the positive impact it will have on the entire university. Under Mitch’s leadership, our Athletics Department continues to contribute to the greater good of UK in a meaningful, financial manner,” said Todd.

UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said, “The priorities we had heading into this process – finding a partner with creativity in branding UK Athletics, one with the financial commitment to help us remain a self-supporting unit, and the willingness to promote all Wildcat sports – were present with Host Communications and Gray Television.

“They've always been a leader in the collegiate sports marketing industry, and they've always been a friend to the University of Kentucky. We’re very pleased to be extending our relationship with Host/Gray,” Barnhart said.

“We had a number of firms make competitive financial offers. The committee’s task was to select the company that could best position UK Athletics in the marketplace, while at the same time deliver unparalleled service to our fans across the Commonwealth and beyond,” UK’s Athletics director said.

Unlike the past when the awarding of multimedia rights at UK was handled through a straight-bid process, this agreement was awarded using a Request for Proposal, or RFP, process. By working closely with the UK Purchasing Department, UK Athletics decided that an RFP would be more beneficial because, in addition to asking for a competitive financial offer, the university could evaluate plans for maximizing the UK sports product.

The university’s eight-person Committee on Press, Radio and Television, in conjunction with the Purchasing Department, evaluated all the bids and eventually recommended awarding the contract to Host/Gray. Committee members include Beth Barnes, Doug Boyd, Mary Margaret Colliver, Tom Harris, Marc Mathews, Rob Mullens, Carl Nathe, and Rick Thompson.

"We're excited about the opportunity to continue our relationship with the University of Kentucky," Host’s President and CEO Tom Stultz said. "Collegiate sports marketing is one of our three core businesses, and the Wildcats are an important part of that core. We believe UK’s expanded rights package provides an exciting opportunity for our companies to increase our revenues and profits. At the same time, the contract allows the university to maximize the combined value of these unique assets. We believe UK’s model will have a major impact on the packaging of similar rights at other universities."

"We know how important the Kentucky Wildcats are to our viewers, and we are proud to remain the flagship television station and to have an even stronger alliance with our friends at Host Communications," said Gray Television's Regional Vice President and WKYT’s President Wayne Martin. "Gray Television and Host collectively employ more than 400 loyal Kentuckians who will work tirelessly to promote the Wildcats. In addition, we look forward to working even closer with our television and radio partners including WAVE-TV in Louisville and Clear Channel's WHAS-AM in Louisville, WLAP-AM in Lexington, and WSAI-AM in Cincinnati.

"We look forward to working with the progressive leadership of Dr. Todd and Mitch Barnhart in this special relationship with the University of Kentucky," Martin added.

The only UK Athletics inventory not included in the new rights agreement are Rupp Arena signage and video sponsorships, which are controlled by Lexington Center Corporation and currently awarded to Action Sports Media.

Host Communications Inc. also holds the media marketing rights for Arizona, Boston College, Florida State, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Texas, the Southeastern Conference, and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Host also publishes all NCAA championship programs as well as championship game programs for the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12 Conference, and Conference USA. Host has a full service printing and publishing company based in Lexington and provides professional management services for three associations.

Bull Run Corporation (BULL) is a public company traded over the counter and based in Atlanta, Ga.

WKYT-TV is owned by Gray Television Inc. Gray is a communications company headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., and currently operates 16 CBS-affiliated television stations, seven NBC-affiliated television stations, eight ABC-affiliated television stations, and five daily newspapers. Gray (GTN, GTN.A) is a New York Stock Exchange Company .

For more information about the UK and Host/Gray agreement, go to UK Purchasing's Web site.


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