How will BYU-TV make money?

One question many wonder about is how will putting BYU football and basketball on BYU-TV for exposure purposes reap any economic benefit in the short and long term.

BYU officials have not outlined how this will work, nor have they made it an issue in events of the past week.

But I’ve spoken to folks at BYU-TV and people in the administration and a former athletic director and asked how this might work.

Basically, BYU-TV is a non-profit station but accepts sponsorships and underwriting grants for it’s programming. It is not a PBS station like KBYU-TV.

What happens is BYU-TV can rent out its high tech HD truck to anybody it chooses to do business with, say ESPN or KSL-TV or a yet-to-be named sports broadcaster like the old SportsWest Network that used to do games locally in Utah.

Second, BYU can sell the rights to broadcast games which its future TV partner agrees to allow it to do on BYU-TV. That entity, SportsWest back in the old days, then pays those rights to BYU and goes out and sells commercial advertising for those games it wishes to do (plus rental fee for the HD truck).

Back in the late 90s, these rights fees for a game was approximately $100,000 for football, which a former AD at the time, said he believed was way under priced in the market. When working with KSL-TV, BYU did not demand more rights fee money because it would be haggling with a business that was owned by the same corporation, that of the LDS Church, so KSL got a break.

In short, BYU-TV could market BYU football and basketball games as a commercial enterprise through rights fees and still maintain its tax-free status and satify the license agreements with the FCC which allows it to be placed on the basic teir of both dish companies.

Ten years ago, BYU-TV had zero subscribers. It now will open a state-of-the art studio near the Marriott Center and has the best HD production truck in the Western United States.

The estimated households BYU-TV can reach is 50 million in North America through the dish companies and 500 cable companies and another 60 million in 150 countries. If BYU can somehow market the broadcasts to draw in football fans who might never consider turning to the channel, the numbers could be impressive.

If rights fees in the 90s stood at $100,000 for a bargain regional audience that KSL or KBYU reached a decade ago, what would the rights fees be for a potential audience for a commercial client be set at these days with BYU-TV’s current distribution throughout the world?

If you were Apple computer, Gatorade or Nike and you wanted a potential splash with this product, what would you pay?

Now many argue, who in the world but BYU fans would even know or care about tuning in to BYU-TV? Good question. But at lunch, I spoke to my well-traveled brother and he told me last year he was in a cafe in Costa Rica and patrons there were watching a BYU women’s soccer match. He was impressed because his daughter, Jessica Harmon Carter was playing and it was a live broadcast.

This is why this independence issue — or the freedom to use BYU facilities — became so intense the past couple of years. Exposure was the goal, but collecting a few coins isn’t a bad side venture.

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