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Kentucky announces $210-million marketing deal with JMI Sports

Jun 26, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

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You might not have noticed it if you live outside the Commonwealth, but earlier this week, Kentucky announced that they have agreed to sell their athletics and campus multimedia rights to JMI Sports.

The terms of that deal?

$210 million over the next 15 years, which works out to an average of $14 million over the course of the contract, which will go into effect in 2015-2016. It’s one of the five highest in college sports, and it includes a $29.4 million signing bonus.

That’s a lot of scratch, especially when you consider that Kentucky cannot sell their television rights. Those are part of the SEC’s broadcast deal.

So what are they selling? The Louisville Courier-Journal explains:

The new deal with JMI Sports includes radio rights to UK football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball games; stadium and arena corporate signage and game programs for all home events other than at Rupp Arena; naming rights to university athletics facilities and premium areas; sponsorship on UKathletics.com; game sponsorship and promotions; coaches endorsements; pregame and postgame television shows and specials and postseason highlight DVDS and video features on video boards other than at Rupp.

More interestingly, however, is this note from that Courier-Journal story:

JMI Sports’ proposal to raise UK’s profile — and bottom line — includes some grand plans. One of the most interesting: “Recapture much of the audience that has been lost to bloggers, other websites and media personalities … and, of course, we want to fully monetize these efforts.”

It’s not a secret that Big Blue Nation is the most powerful force in college basketball when it comes to online traffic. That’s why there are so many Kentucky fan sites, most notably Kentucky Sports Radio. Is the Kentucky athletic department looking to tap into that money stream?

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