Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts confirmed Monday that the athletic department has entered into a long-term media rights agreement with JMI Sports.
The deal, which begins July 1, re-assigns NU to a third-party provider for athletics media operations after the school spent the last year managing its media rights in-house.
The finalized deal is due for approval by the NU Board of Regents in April.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Journal Star sources said it was a 12-year deal worth up to $215 million in aggregate, or nearly $18 million. million dollars per year.
“Nebraska Athletics transitioned our media rights and radio network operations in-house last year, and the venture has been successful thanks to the hard work and dedication of our Huskers Athletics Partners and Huskers Radio Network teams,” said Alberts said in a statement. Star Newspaper. “The decision to keep our media rights in-house has allowed us to carefully assess the pros and cons of an in-house program as media rights companies reset for a post-pandemic market.
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“After extensive review and feedback, we believe the best model is for Husker Athletics to return their MMR rights to an industry expert. We are offering to contract with JMI Sports LLC for a long-term MMR deal, effective July 1, 2022. We have reviewed the proposed agreement with the Board’s Business and Finance Committee and the item will be brought to the full Board for consideration in April.
“We are confident that this potential deal would ensure Husker Athletics is positioned for success in an evolving collegiate landscape.”
Media rights for colleges include advertising, corporate sponsorships, partnerships and more.
“When you think of media rights, of course that includes radio, but the easiest way to think about it is selling sponsorships,” said Jordan Bloem, senior vice president of client strategy at Navigate Research, a company that works with colleges in the field of multimedia rights. strategy explained last year. “It’s signs in stadiums, this tent outside the stadium where they give out key fobs and do brand activation, there are all kinds of digital assets.”
Former athletic director Bill Moos decided to end NU’s relationship with Learfield/IMG when the contract expired last summer, in part due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and what officials at the department described as changes in the structure of what the company was offering.
“Their position was fairly consistent towards the end of March, beginning of April, that the guarantee model that we had in the past was no longer available,” Nebraska senior assistant athletic director Garrett Klassy said at the time. “If he was available, he would have been available to us since we have always been one of the top five properties in the country by revenue.”
After a year, however, Alberts, in recent assessments, determined that NU risked leaving money on the table if it tried to maintain its autonomous operation instead of returning to the market to see what third-party providers had to offer.
In the end, NU chose to sign a long-term agreement with JMI. It appears to be an even more lucrative setup than the school’s last deal with Learfield/IMG, which came with a $12 million annual guarantee.
When the department moved its operations in-house, it hired most of the people who had worked at Lincoln on Learfield/IMG’s NU account. It seems likely that some or much of the staff will essentially remain on the account after July 1, but will transition to JMI.
Part of NU’s internal efforts included a studio built at East Stadium and some programming changes to the Husker Radio Network. It was not immediately clear how those details would be affected once the new deal takes effect in July.
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