Project: PAYDIRT kicks off today at 4 pm in CBA 4.334. If Mack Brown, Bryan Harsin or Major Applewhite knew about it, we’re sure they would be stoked.
Project: PAYDIRT is pleased to collaborate with professor Mike Cramer and his students in The Business of Sports Media for an intensive directed research session on the issues surrounding cable carriage of The Longhorn Network, the ground-breaking and recently launched collaboration between UT and ESPN.
Students participating in this session of PAYDIRT will work in teams of three or four to address a scenario where major cable operators have declined to agree to ESPN’s terms for carriage of LHN after the ratings intensive football season has passed. Without the programming leverage that UT football brings, students must research, analyze and present:
- strategic options for re-conceptualizing the business plan, marketing plan and carriage footprint for LHN
- creative options for leveraging social media to catalyze viewer support for LHN, creating incentives for major cable operators to carry the channel
Students will be directed in their research by Dr. Tommy Darwin and Dr. Steven Ungerleider under a iterative process promulgated by UT’s Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium. Students will be challenged to leverage proprietary cable industry historical information to put the LHN scenario into context. They will also be invited to initiate interviews with informed industry leaders with perspective on the motivations of both the programmer and the cable operator. Students will synthesize their findings over a five-week process and present their summary insights to an informed panel of experts.
The first PAYDIRT session begins October 24 from 4-5:30 pm with a meeting in CBA 4.344. Student groups must come prepared to offer their initial assessment of the proposed carriage scenario.
Dave Brown and Stephanie Druley, of The Longhorn Network, and Chris Plonsky of UT Athletics talk to Ben Philpott at KUT’s Views and Brews. An audio recording of the conversation can be found here: http://kut.org/2011/09/espn-and-ut-the-real-game/
TPSM is proud to host the first public forum for the UT-Austin/ESPN collaboration of The Longhorn Network. UT Athletics Director Chris Plonsky will join ESPN’s Dave Brown and Stephanie Druley on stage at the Cactus Cafe Aug. 30 at 6 pm during a production of KUT’s Views and Brews. KUT’s public affairs reporter Ben Philpott will moderate the discussion. The idea for a public forum was a key finding by the spring 2011 Project: PAYDIRT research associates.
Last spring, UT-Austin (and it’s media rights holder IMG College) agreed on a landmark agreement with ESPN, the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports, to create The Longhorn Network in a deal valued at $300 million over 20 years. The station is set to launch at 6 pm on Aug. 26 with 24/7 programming on all things burnt orange, the vast majority of which will involve intercollegiate athletics. This is an unprecedented undertaking by both the university and the programmer. The station’s rollout has ramped up with increasing public scrutiny on the implications for not only its Athletics Department, one of the highest-profile in the country, but also the university as a whole.
On Tuesday, TPSM and KUT will begin to unpack these many issues with some of the principal players involved with the formation of The Longhorn Network. Chris Plonsky has worked for UT-Austin for over 22 years, distinguishing herself as one of the most respected professionals in intercollegiate sports. She has served the university in a lead capacity through the feasibility studies for the creation of a dedicated programming presence and both the contract negotiation with ESPN and its implementation. Dave Brown is the Vice President of Programming for The Longhorn Network. He has been with the company since 1987, having served in a variety of programming and program acquisition capacity for ESPN’s family of channels. Stephanie Druley, a UT-Austin College of Communication alumna, is the Vice President of Production for The Longhorn Network. She first joined ESPN in 1990, rising to work as Senior Coordinating Producer for NFL Studio Production.
Views and Brews is open to the public, though seating is limited. Doors open at 5:30.
TPSM has dedicated its newly-created GooglePlus page to chronicling a cross section of the media coverage and opinion being generated in reaction to UT-Austin’s agreement with ESPN, creating the Longhorn Network. Many of the issues and sentiments reflect the responses solicited by the spring 2011 Project: PAYDIRT research team. Stay tuned…
Undergraduate research associates Elizabeth Roman, Jacob Goodman, Ashley Janik, Jordan Pedicord and Rachel Frey have finalized their initial findings on the planned launch of the Longhorn Network. The Texas Program in Sports and Media hopes to use these observations as the basis for campus- and community-based discussions on the groundbreaking agreement between UT-Austin and ESPN.
The research team is compiling comments from students, faculty and administrators at UT, regarding their interests and desires for the Longhorn Network. The students have an upcoming appointment with Dr. Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication, to present their research findings and recommendations. A final copy of this report will be released publicly on this website.
The spring 2011 Project: PAYDIRT team is comprised of 2 public relations majors, 2 Radio-Television-Film majors and 1 broadcast journalism major. We need all these perspectives to meaningfully unpack what the Longhorn Network means to UT-Austin, if not the rest of the world. These undergraduate researchers have agreed to conduct a wide range of interviews from a broad cross section of people within the UT-Austin community. The goal of this research is to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges that come with an initiative of this size, scope and ambition. The research team has agreed to produce a report documenting their findings with the hope of presenting to a summary to key decision-makers in the university, giving voice to the interests of the institution’s wide spectrum of stakeholders.