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Post Dawgs sign record marketing deal – so what’s going to change?

Thursday June 18, 2009

Georgia’s $92.8 million deal with ISP Sports for marketing and media rights is official now. It’s a big deal on several levels. The deal represents well over 10% of athletic department revenue ($84.2 million at last report).

For comparison, Georgia Tech recently re-upped with ISP to the tune of $50 million over the life of a 10-year deal. FSU’s deal with ISP signed back in 2007 was worth a reported $66 million over ten years. Auburn’s 2006 nine-year deal with ISP was for $51.3 million. The Dawgs, on an annual basis, now have one of the highest-paying marketing deals in the nation.

Make no mistake, ISP is going to make their money back somehow. If you haven’t become numb to the barrage of advertising at Sanford Stadium yet, you won’t like what’s ahead. At least with Cingular becoming AT&T, there should be less orange and blue around. The additional time (possibly 9+ hours of total broadcast time on a football game day) added to the pregame and postgame shows will surely be advertising-heavy. I’d also expect the enhancements to online and mobile content to come with a price tag. If they can make it more reliable than G-Xtra, it might be worth it.

For many fans, the most interesting development to watch will be this one:

With the ISP deal in place, Georgia expects to announce its radio broadcast teams for the coming season soon.

Scott Howard called the football and men’s basketball play-by-play last season. Eric Zeier provided football color commentary.

“Certainly we look forward to working with the stable of folks that have been working with us before and potentially adding others into the fold,” Thomas said. “You will continue to see a lot of those that you’ve seen involved in the broadcast.”

The last line gives us a bit of hope, but I’m a little apprehensive at the direction this could take. Howard and Zeier were never going to be a permanent arrangement, but I’d be just fine leaving that intact. No one is going to replace Munson, but Howard is at least competent and, most important (to me at least), a homer and comfortable bit of continuity from the Munson days. I dread the day when some polished outsider is brought in who is bland and detatched or, worse, from the cheeseball Mick Huber mold. There are so many ways it could go bad and so many people who would be worse for the job than Scott Howard. It could have a silver lining – the broadcast team could end up being bad enough to force fans to leave the headphones at home for once and actually get into the game.

Of course there’s more to it than the guys in the booth. Sideline reporters and pregame and postgame hosts will have to be sorted out, so we’ll have to see what the announcement brings and where the changes will be made. Basketball and baseball could also see a shakeup – will Jeff Dantzler still be a part of the picture?

I also wonder about Hondo and the guys managing the broadcast network for WSB. WSB will still be the Atlanta broadcast affiliate, but the network is managed by ISP now instead of Cox/WSB. Hopefully they’ll still have a role in the new arrangement after the great work they’ve done.

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