ESPN to launch U of Texas cable network


ESPN announced plans to launch a new 24-hour network dedicated to University of Texas sports, beginning in September. ESPN has cut a 20-year deal with the university and IMG College to develop, launch and operate the new network.

According to ESPN, the UT network will offer a variety of content, highlighted by more than 200 exclusive events annually from numerous sports, original series and studio shows, historical programming and academic and cultural happenings. Additionally, an on-line broadband companion to the TV network will offer extensive content, particularly events not featured on the linear TV network due to simultaneous events or other overlapping programming.

“This network is a testament to the school’s remarkable, tradition-rich success and widespread, devoted fan base. We are excited to work with Texas as well as IMG on this one-of-a-kind opportunity to create a dynamic new home – both through television and broadband outlets — for all things UT, 365 days a year,” said ESPN President George Bodenheimer.

“This is an extremely exciting new venture for our university. With our partners, we are now able to increase the exposure of our outstanding athletics programs and our first-class academic and cultural communities. This agreement provides significant new resources to enhance faculty and academic support,” said University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr.

DeLoss Dodds, UT Men’s Athletics Director, added, “We have been working with IMG College to bring this television network together for several years and we are excited and proud to say it will be here soon.  This network will provide unmatched exposure for our sports programs and campus academic community. ESPN is the global sports leader, and having this relationship on our campus will be special for all associated with the university. Our commitment to the Big 12 Conference allowed us to pursue this. We want to be as strong as we can be for us and the Big 12.”

What will air, especially since UT has existing TV contracts for many of its top teams?

The network will present more than 200 exclusive events each year, plus encore presentations of many games. Among the highlights:

Football: at least one exclusive game involving University of Texas each season plus encore presentations of Texas games originally on other networks (Note: for the 2011 season, ESPN will work within existing programming contracts to coordinate football game scheduling). In addition, the network will also showcase the annual practice scrimmage during the Texas Spring Football Jamboree.

Men’s Basketball: a minimum of eight exclusive games involving University of Texas each season plus encore presentations of Texas games originally on other networks

Women’s Basketball: exclusive games (every one available) and encore telecasts involving one of the nation’s most successful women’s programs

Olympic Sports: exclusive games (every one available) and encore presentations of University of Texas matchups in volleyball, soccer, baseball, softball, tennis, cross country, track and field, swimming and diving, golf and rowing.

Studio Coverage

ESPN expects to have an on-campus studio presence in Austin for the network. Studio programming is likely to include:

Pre- and post-game Programs: for various events, including every football game, every men’s basketball game, and many others

Coaches Shows: original programming with coaches for every University of Texas sport

Other Studio Programming: daily studio content showcasing breaking news, highlights, and more

Additional Original Sports Programming

The network will also be home to a range of original shows, series and experiences related to UT Athletics such as:

Season Previews/Reviews: for all University of Texas sports

Documentaries: biographies, student-athlete features and other storytelling-driven shows

Athletic Tradition: coverage of pep rallies, athletic awards presentations, tailgating, campus traditions, cheer and POM showcases and more

Misc: live radio shows, reports from the Athletic Directors, merchandise/memorabilia opportunities, etc.

Academic, Arts and Cultural Content

Fans can also expect to get a taste of non-athletic content relevant to The University of Texas on the network:

Academic: university news, commencement activities, lectures and visiting speakers

Culture/Arts: coverage of arts, music and theater events, including ones at UT as well as the surrounding Austin area to provide a flavor of the community

High School Coverage

ESPN will also create and operate a new, authenticated online/broadband site that will aspire to broadly aggregate content from around the state. It will provide fans, students and parents with access to extensive Texas high school sports, including football, basketball and more, through this centralized home.