USA Today Sports Digital Media and NeuLion have announced a strategic partnership for video syndication and original productions. The deal includes NeuLion College, a network of 170 NCAA sports properties and USA Today Sports' extensive collection of digital sports sites plus Gannett's 120+ local media properties. Dave Morgan, president of USA Today Sports Media Group and Chris Wagner, EVP of NeuLion filled me in on the deal yesterday.
As with all syndication deals, the main focus is driving increased audience and monetization. Chris explained that the 170 colleges use NeuLion to broadcast live games (over 18K last year), mainly under a subscription model, and also to publish lots of free, non-game content like highlights and coaches' shows, which together reach about 10 million unique visitors/month. This content has already been included in a network that NeuLion sells ads into.
The non-game content will now be selectively syndicated into various USA Today Sports' sites. Dave noted that there's strong crossover between its local newspaper/broadcast sites and the NeuLion college network, so there's a strong fit for extending the reach of the colleges' video. The USA Today Sports properties have 40 million unique visitors/month, so clearly there's significant audience potential. Under the syndication deal, the colleges would get a share of the resulting ad revenue.
The syndication deal is two-way as the plan is to publish USA Today Sports' video into the NeuLion network as well. Another key aspect of the deal is co-production of original programming. Dave and Chris didn't provide specifics, except to say they envision new digital video products being jointly created. Chris added that many colleges already have extensive video and content production teams embedded within their athletic departments.