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Big Network on Campus

Fox Sports adds college football to its game plan
  • January 30 2012

By adding regular season college football to its already impressive roster, Fox Sports thinks it’s assembled a Dream Team that will score more points with advertisers and TV sports fans than the Miami Heat.

Sporting an all-star lineup that includes the ratings muscle of the NFL, Major League Baseball and the World Series, Fox is confident that its first-ever, regular season schedule of  Pac 12 and Conference USA football will deliver unprecedented numbers of young male viewers to its broadcast network. It will also offer a full slate of Pac 12, Big 12 and Conference USA football games on FX.

“This will be the first time since 1993 that college football has lived on the same network that also offers the NFL, the World Series and the number-one primetime lineup with young males,” says Neil Mulcahy, EVP of sports sales at Fox. “Nobody can come close to providing that kind of massive and focused audience. It’s the most exciting opportunity we’ve ever had to offer our advertisers.”

Fox already has demonstrated a surge in interest in college games, scoring big numbers broadcasting the inaugural conference championship games for the Pac 12 and Big Ten conferences this past December. The network racked up another big audience by moving the AT&T Cotton Bowl to primetime, making it one of the few major bowl games not aired by an ESPN property.

The new 12-year agreement with the Pac 12 gives Fox broadcast, local cable and digital asset rights to showcase top-ranked teams with national followings from one of America’s best regarded conferences. A similar 13-year agreement with the Big 12 locked up exclusive cable rights to 40 football games a season, along with the Conference Championship Game. The multi-year Conference USA agreement gives the network national TV rights for football, basketball and Olympic sports.

To maximize the potential for advertisers, the network has also revealed a new game plan to fully integrate its ad sales effort across platforms.

“This is the most exciting thing we’ve ever done,” says Mark Evans, Fox’s SVP of sports sales. “This is the first time we will be offering a multi-channel, multi-platform buy with a reach and value that far exceeds that of any other media buy.”

Mulcahy and Evans can back up their big talk. “The NFL on Fox delivers more than double the gross ratings points of Monday Night Football, the World Series delivers a staggering 70 ratings points and our primetime lineup has the highest ratings with viewers that drive college football viewing: males 18-24, 18-34 and even 18-49,” says Evans.

Mulcahy concurs. “We’ll be moving viewers from the MLB postseason to primetime to NFL to college football and back again. It’s a tremendous marketing machine. Nobody else has that kind of power,” he says.

The integration of the marketing effort, Evans notes, will give Fox Sports the ability to provide brands with a one-stop sports shop. “All of our platforms will be working in true unison and presenting to agencies as a collective front,” he says. “We’ll be reaching 100 million homes with one solid unit sending a unified message. That’s a touchdown for advertisers.”