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Fox Sports is cheering for USC

September 04, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • Fox Sports brokered deal between USC and JetBlue.
Fox Sports brokered deal between USC and JetBlue. (USC )

USC students and alumni weren't the only ones singing "Fight On" last Saturday. Fox executive Dan Shell was also screaming his lungs out at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as the Trojans trounced Hawaii, 49-10, albeit for slightly different reasons.

Shell is in charge of selling sponsorships for USC's athletic programs. But while Shell's title is vice president and general manager of USC Sports Properties, his checks come from Fox Sports. He is part of a new unit there that as of this year is handling sponsorship sales for USC Athletics.

"Aligning the Fox brand to the USC brand makes a lot of sense," Shell said. Advertisers seem to agree. So far, Shell has signed up JetBlue, Nike, Coca-Cola, Audi and MillerCoors. 

The deals go beyond just a sign at a stadium. For example, there are now "JetBlue luxury seats" in the Coliseum.

With USC expected to be the top college team in the land and quarterback Matt Barkley a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, it's a good time to be selling the Trojans, especially now that the ban on the school appearing in bowl games has been lifted.

"No question that has helped things, there is a buzz around here," said Shell.

Fox isn't expecting to make a fortune out of this deal. The way it works is that Fox guarantees USC revenue up front and then both sides share revenue after hitting certain benchmarks. Prior to the deal with Fox, USC is said to have taken in about $6 million a year in sponsorship and marketing money. Fox expects that figure to double. The agreement for Fox to manage USC's rights runs for 10 years.

It is not unusual for big colleges to outsource their sponsorship efforts. Prior to joining Fox at the start of this year, Shell worked at the sports management and marketing agency IMG doing the same thing.

However, it is unique to have a TV company handling sales. For Fox, which will carry some USC games on its broadcast network and also owns two local cable sports channels here, the bet is that its resources and packaging ability will be a lure for advertisers. 

"We can do a great job at running this property," Shell predicted.

For now, Fox is not looking to expand beyond USC, but Shell didn't rule that out down the road. "The vision is to grow this together, and Fox can see what they think of the business."

Hopefully Shell's own college, the University of California at Berkeley, won't mind his new allegiance.


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Major League Baseball's next TV deals could reshape TV landscape

Time Warner Cable, CBS strike unusual sports deal

Pac-12 Networks adds to glut of sports channels in Los Angeles

Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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