ESPN, University of Texas Partner on New Network


The two entities will create a channel featuring sports and other university content in a 20-year deal worth $300 million.

NEW YORK - Walt Disney's ESPN is bullish on the Longhorns.

The network on Wednesday unveiled a 20-year agreement with the University of Texas and its marketing and licensing partner IMG College to launch and operate a yet-unnamed 24-hour TV network dedicated to UT.

The channel, scheduled to start in September, will offer a range of content, including more than 200 exclusive sports events, original series and studio shows, historical programming and content about academic and cultural happenings. The partners didn't immediately announce cable or satellite TV distributors for the channel.

A broadband Internet companion will feature additional content, particularly when simultaneous events mean the TV network can only show one event.

Existing TV deals between the Big 12 conference and ESPN/ABC and Fox will not be affected by the deal, which will see ESPN pay $300 million, with more than 80% going to the university, according to the Associated Press

"This network is a testament to the school's remarkable, tradition-rich success and widespread, devoted fan base," said George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports. "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."

University of Texas at Austin president William Powers Jr. said the arrangement will help "increase the exposure of our outstanding athletics programs and our first-class academic and cultural communities."