The University of Nebraska athletic department is set to bring the Husker Sports Radio and its multimedia rights operation in-house when its current deal with Learfield/IMG expires this summer.
The school confirmed the move to the Journal Star on Monday morning.
Nebraska has contracted with Learfield/IMG since 2006 and will retain the company for some services moving forward, but will move its entire multimedia rights operation within the athletic department.
“Learfield/IMG College and Nebraska Athletics have enjoyed a great partnership for many years and will continue to be affiliated in the licensing, ticketing and digital space,” senior deputy athletic director Garrett Klassy said in a statement provided to the Journal Star. "We plan to release more details surrounding our multimedia rights as we get closer to the expiration of our current contract."
NU has been in the process of considering bids and the option of taking its operation internal for months as the end of the Learfield/IMG contract approached. News Channel Nebraska reported the decision on Monday morning.
Nebraska is believed to be the first Power Five conference school to make this complete of an in-house transition.
Multimedia rights in college athletics cover everything from radio broadcasts to signage and advertising in stadiums to intellectual property, digital media and beyond.
NU's contract with Learfield/IMG had been worth $72 million over the past six years and was subject to periodic renegotiation.
Such a move is going to lead to Nebraska building out its staff to handle much more work in advertising and licensing in-house.
Navigate Research CEO AJ Maestas wrote recently about multimedia rights deals and grouped contracts into two general buckets: guarantee model and revenue sharing model. He forecast that vendors would try to move toward more revenue-sharing arrangements and avoid paying large guarantees, as Learfield/IMG did to Nebraska, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"On the positive end, this aligns incentives for the athletic department (and university at large) to be a good business partner," he wrote. "On the flip side, without revenue certainty we anticipate athletic departments asking themselves, 'Why can’t we do this ourselves?'"
Nebraska's leadership group has made its bet clear: They believe they can do it themselves.
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