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Louisville and ESPN’s Partnership – A Comeback Story

With the financial crisis in the U.S. over the past recent years, many universities found their financial situation mirroring that of the country’s financial status. Many schools have been suffering in revenue due to lower financing from various states and some due to lower admission rates. However with all of the economic uncertainty for many colleges, the University of Louisville has found themselves prospering financially during the tough economic times in the U.S. This is in large part due to Louisville’s athletic department and the school’s partnership with ESPN television.

University of Louisville Football
by Kentucky National Guard

The Power of ESPN

ESPN is often referred to as the mother-ship when it comes to sports. It is the leader not only in sports television, but also sports radio. Every sports fan spends countless hours engaging in some form of ESPN broadcasting (be it radio or television). ESPN is light years ahead of every other sports network. Fans flock to ESPN to watch various sporting events and get the latest on their favorite teams. So any involvement with the sports giant will bolster exposure and press. But how exactly does the University of Louisville get ESPN’s attention while Big 10 teams are playing on the weekend (thus taking up the spotlight)?

The Partnership of ESPN and Louisville Sports

Over the past twelve years ESPN has been showcasing Louisville’s midweek football games. This has brought tremendous exposure to the university from college football fans. Most college football games take place on Saturdays, leaving little room for less-known schools to be featured on television. For the University of Louisville, they were desperately looking for their chance to shine and increase their coverage. Their football program had been suffering from budget cuts and to help rejuvenate them, they made a partnership with ESPN.

If the University of Louisville was willing to play their games on the days ESPN wanted to show them, they would cover them. And since Thursday through Monday already had spots taken up by big league games, ESPN decided to feature Louisville on Tuesdays. Few schools were playing on those days, so ESPN would highlight their game during prime-time hours. And since the University of Louisville’s game was one of the few games on Tuesday, they got a ton of coverage. More people became aware of the University of Louisville and the college’s ratings for athletics started to climb. Tom Jurich, the athletic director of Louisville, conceded that if it were not for ESPN, the program would be a fraction of what it is now. ESPN took a chance on Louisville and the risk has paid off tremendously for both parties.

Louisville Football
by Kentucky National Guard

The Benefits of the Partnership

With the exposure gained from ESPN, Louisville has financially benefited greatly. First with the millions received for having games televised on the most powerful sports network in the country. And then there is the increase in revenue from donors and apparel being sold. Also, with the national attention Louisville is getting, it attracts the attention of potential students — boosting student admissions.

ESPN has also benefited financially from the partnership. College football is huge among sports fans. Many sports fans cannot wait until the weekend comes so they can see college football action. With ESPN showcasing Louisville’s midweek games they were able to give football fanatics the opportunity to bypass the weekend wait and deliver quality action mid-week. This is huge for ratings for ESPN. There is no competition with other networks showing college football games. All eyes of college football fans are focused on ESPN to see the Louisville game.

There is no question that the joining of ESPN and Louisville has turned out to be a great decision for all parties involved. The University of Louisville especially has reaped the rewards of this great union.

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