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IMG College's multimedia bid to WVU dwarfed W.Va. Radio's

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia Radio Corp. projected the WVU Athletics Department would earn $5.7 million over the next 10 years if the university let the company handle its multimedia rights, according to bid documents obtained by the Daily Mail. 

Meanwhile, eventual rights winner IMG College was initially willing to guarantee West Virginia University $78.3 million over the next 10 years if it was awarded the rights.

Last month, WVU signed a 12-year deal with North Carolina-based IMG allowing the company to manage the athletic department's so-called Tier 3 multimedia rights, which include radio, digital and some television.

IMG agreed to pay the university a guaranteed minimum of $86.5 million over the next 12 years. It was the second time IMG prevailed in WVU's multimedia rights bidding process.

The original round of proposals was scrapped in April after Attorney General Patrick Morrisey found "significant errors and sloppiness" in the way it was handled.

On Thursday, following a Freedom of Information Act request, WVU provided the Daily Mail with copies of all proposals submitted during both bid processes.

They range from simple, typed pages outlining plans to elaborate, 70-plus-page presentations containing artist renderings and audio and video demonstrations.

In both rounds, IMG guaranteed WVU the most revenue.

In its first proposal, submitted last October, IMG guaranteed WVU a minimum of $78.3 million in royalties and other payments over the next 10 years. It also included a sample audio clip of what its radio broadcasts would sound like.

It also included drawings of potential stadium upgrades, including new scoreboards and video monitors, and the placement of other advertising.

Five other companies submitted bids last October. Of those, only two offered WVU a guaranteed revenue figure over the next 10 years.

Missouri-based Learfield Communications had the second-highest guaranteed total, offering the school $70.5 million. Philadelphia-based Front Row Marketing Services, a Comcast subsidiary, offered a minimum of $50.3 million.

Other bidders offered to enter revenue-sharing agreements with WVU.

CBS Sports said it would allow WVU to keep the first $3.6 million in annual revenue - which roughly equaled the university's current profit from its Tier 3 rights - with the company earning a commission, starting at 5 percent and rising to 32.5 percent, on earnings above that level.

New Jersey-based Nelligan Sports Marketing proposed allowing WVU to keep 70 percent of the first $5 million and 75 percent of all revenue received beyond that.

W.Va. Radio

Morgantown-based West Virginia Radio, which has since launched a lawsuit accusing the university of rigging the bid process in IMG's favor, had the least-thorough proposal in the first round.

West Virginia Radio proposed keeping in place the current structure of the athletic department's Mountaineer Sports Network, which handled WVU's multimedia rights for decades.

Instead of outsourcing that department, West Virginia Radio proposed a "unique partnership" that "both recognizes the valuable and efficient operations currently in place in the WVU Athletic Department and one that will enhance and grow revenues through a much larger and more direct joint sales and promotional operation."

It touted the advantages and popularity of its award-winning broadcast team, four members of which had accumulated more than 30,000 followers on Twitter, and the statewide network of radio affiliates the company already has in place.

It also touted past marketing successes for the university, claiming the success of the "Stripe the Stadium" promotion at last year's Baylor game was a result of more than $50,000 in free radio advertising provided by the company to promote the event.

West Virginia Radio proposed expanding football pre-game programs to two hours and basketball pre-game shows to one hour and said it would add an additional two salespeople in Morgantown to help secure additional advertising and sponsorships.

West Virginia Radio proposed allowing WVU to keep 100 percent of the revenue from its existing contracts. It proposed splitting all new revenue sources between WVU and the company, with WVU keeping a 65 percent share of the net profits.

While it did not offer any guaranteed revenue in its proposal, the company projected the university would net roughly $5.7 million in new revenue over the next 10 years by partnering with it.

By pledging to continue offering roughly $500,000 in free advertising to WVU each year, the company estimated the total value of its proposal at roughly $10.7 million over the next 10 years.

Once WVU signed a letter of intent with IMG in January, West Virginia Radio owner John Raese began publicly protesting the bid process.

After Morrisey recommended the matter be put out for rebid, West Virginia Radio officials said they would not participate in a "re-selection process of IMG College."

West Virginia Radio attorney Bob Gwynne did not return a request for comment.

New Bids

In the second round, IMG upped its guaranteed dollar amount to $82.4 million but extended the contract term to 12 years. The guaranteed amount for the first 10 years dropped to about $70 million, though it did not include any revenue during the first year.

The company said it would have to negotiate with WVU officials regarding exactly how the revenue would be split in the first year, given the shortened timetable created by the rebid process.

The company also produced a video showing testimonials of representatives from other schools and featuring clips from last year's WVU-Marshall game.

Another company to participate in the rebid was the New Jersey-based Fox Run Group, which did not submit a bid during the first round. It didn't guarantee revenue, however, simply proposing a straight 80-20 revenue share with WVU. WVU would keep the larger share.

IMG College spokesman Andrew Giangola said the proposals demonstrate that IMG was best-suited to grow WVU's brand and marketing reach into the future.

He said the company represented 96 schools, including two-thirds of Bowl Championship Series-member schools in 49 of the nation's top 50 advertising markets. By joining that network, he said WVU now has the opportunity to benefit from national marketing efforts.

"Through the IMG platform, big brands can 'buy' college sports on a national level in one-stop shopping - rather than negotiating with each university," Giangola said. "This speeds the process and offers these brands hyper-local marketing and activation on each campus."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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