IMG inks deal with Fox Sports

Will take over international distribution of programming

IMG Sports Media will take over international distribution of Fox Sports International programming, the companies said.

Fox Sports International holds international rights to a number of sports, including college football's Bowl Championship Series, Cotton Bowl and football and basketball games from the Big Ten and the Pac 10 as well as action sports from Fuel TV and domestic Fox Soccer Channel programming. Fox Sports does not have the international rights to all of its programming.

Previously, the product had been sold outside of the U.S. by an in-house Fox Sports International unit based in London. It has made sales, primarily in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. But the approximately 3,000 hours of content in the catalog doesn't represent the kind of scale that Fox needs to make it big internationally.

Enter IMG Sports Media, which will sell the programming on a commission basis beginning July 1.

"It's increasingly difficult to really maximize the foreign revenue opportunity if you don't have meaningful scale," said David Sternberg, executive vp and COO of emerging networks at Fox Cable Networks. "IMG brings a scale and a global presence that we were never able to replicate with just the one sales office."

IMG brings that scale with about 18,000 hours of programming and global rights negotiations, as well as relationships with the International Olympic Committee, All England Lawn Tennis Club, the FA Premiere League and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, among others. IMG Sports Media has staff on the ground in 30 countries as well as global reach.

"It just makes so much sense for Fox with their brand and their portfolio and what they're doing here to join with us in this deal and take advantage of that," said Hillary Mandel, senior vp programming and distribution at IMG Media.

She said there's a growing appetite for live sports programming, particularly U.S.-based, around the world. Mandel said IMG has relationships with the buyers around the world and know what they want. She said particularly hot now is action sports like the kind that Fuel TV delivers.

"We think the demand is there," she said.