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Dick Harmon: How can BYUtv earn money from televising sporting events?

Published: Friday, Aug. 19 2011 11:11 p.m. MDT

Added Marquis: “It is interesting that many of the bigger regional and national companies are actually finding better success with image spots as opposed to hard sell-type spots. As such, many of the spots we're now seeing on commercial channels actually follow the FCC guidelines for noncommercial education channels as well. It'll be fun to have some of these same companies as well as local companies with the same mindset now sponsoring the sports-related programs on BYUtv.”

Pilling, who also works with the general manager of the Texas Longhorn Network, praised BYU's innovation with BYUtv and called the ESPN partnership "huge" as the Cougars venture independently in football. "They can drive their own destiny."

Marquis is satisfied in joining with IMG. "We are excited to be partnering with IMG College. Just as ESPN is the worldwide leader in sports, IMG is the worldwide leader in college athletic marketing, representing over 200 of the nation's top collegiate properties. It will be great to be able to combine our talents to create sponsorship opportunities for companies as excited as we are about supporting BYU athletics."

So, how much money a year will all this mean?

The contracts with NuSkin and others are concrete and accountable, minus IMG's fee. But there are a lot of intangibles yet to be realized. Some industry experts say a conservative starting point estimate would be between $1 to $2 million per year — but that is an estimate. BYU doesn't release that kind of information, and the product is ultimately built for exposure, not making money.

The Texas Longhorn Network, however, is going after the gold. The subscription-based sports on that channel could haul in a lot of coin. A figure tossed around on ESPN's charge per subscriber is approximately $4 a month on a typical cable or dish bill with 110 million subscribers.

In reality, TLN will likely get about 25 cents per subscriber to begin, and its reach will be limited to scattering of regional cable networks in and near Texas. Since BYUtv is already on both dish systems, Comcast Cable and many other basic platforms nationally, the exposure is impressive. If TLN gets 250,000 subscribers for a start, that would be considered good. In terms of exposure, BYUtv will blow that out of the water. Having ten 2011 games on ESPN extends the saturation of BYU football.

To give you an idea of what the TLN is up against, consider ESPN is the No. 1 in subscriptions — by price and buyers. Next is Fox Sports Net at about $2.37 per sub. The NFL network gets 75 cents per subscriber; Versus is 26 cents and the Mtn. is 20 cents per subscriber.

If BYU was in it for the money, they'd go the TLN route and make BYU fans do the pay-per-view dance.

But, for now and for the immediate future, BYU will take the other route and hope the TV set count in North and South America and other parts of the world will give the exposure BYU wants.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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