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Report: Alabama is set to sign $150 million multimedia rights deal

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday
NCAA Football: Georgia State at Alabama
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Oct 5, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; a general view of the Alabama Crimson Tide game against the Georgia State Panthers during the third quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

More than 73,000 fans attending Alabama’s spring game tells you all you need to know about the state of Alabama athletics. It is thriving, and now the school is set to sign one of the nation’s “most lucrative multimedia rights deals.”

How does $150 million sound?

Sports Business Daily is reporting that the university will sign a deal with Learfield Sports “worth at least $150 million to $160 million over 10 years.” The agreement will extend the relationship between Alabama and Learfield through June 30, 2024.

Alabama has been with Learfield since 1998, but “took advantage of an opt-out” in its previous contract in order to renegotiate. The newly agreed to financial terms ($15-16 million per year) “double Alabama’s guarantee previously.”

Alabama now joins Notre Dame and Texas in the top three schools in multimedia rights revenue. The Crimson Tide’s success on the football field in recent years – three national titles in five years -- gave the school the grounds to renegotiate.

“A lot of things have changed since the last time we negotiated a deal,” Alabama athletic director Bill Battle told Sports Business Daily. “This option gave us a chance to look around the marketplace and see how things look now versus five years ago. Alabama has been on a pretty good roll since then.”

Aside from the monetary increase, Learfield won’t have rights to “third-tier football and basketball games.” Those games are now in the hands of the SEC Network, but Learfield still controls rights that are not normally a part of multimedia contracts, including “concessions, pouring rights, isotonic beverage, seat rentals and merchandise.”

Those additional rights reportedly “account for 25 to 30 percent of the revenue from the property.”

“We’ve been (with Alabama) a long time,” Learfield CEO Greg Brown said. “In the early days of the relationship, football wasn’t as good and there were some challenges. But even then, the business did very well and we’re very confident in the long-term strength of the brand. When you think about Alabama’s stability and continuity, it’s almost unlike any other in college sports.”

The renegotiation will benefit Alabama fans too. The university will update concession areas and “point-of-sale signage” in Bryant-Denny Stadium with the addition of TVs and “possibly some LED signage” in the concourse.

The Alabama athletic department’s revenue totaled in at $143.4 million for the 2012-13 year and the renewed deal with Learfield should increase that number moving forward.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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