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UND intends to award athletics TV deal to Midco; radio rights to iHeart

The Fighting Hawks athletic department can begin to negotiate with both entities. They both currently hold broadcast rights.

BrandtHeinert.jpeg
Midco Sports Network broadcasters Jake Brandt (left) and Alex Heinert (right) sit in the press box before UND's hockey game against Omaha on March 5, 2021.
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GRAND FORKS — UND is planning to award its athletic television rights to Midco and its radio rights to iHeart Media.

Both entities currently hold the rights.

UND's procurement office sent notices to both on Thursday afternoon.

The intent to award means UND's athletic department can now begin final negotiations with Midco and iHeart Media.

Forum Communications, which owns the Herald, also bid on the TV rights.

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In a scoring system that featured three categories — approach to work (65 percent), experience and qualifications (10 percent) and cost summary (25 percent) — Midco Sports outscored Forum Communications 80.58 to 63.58.

Leighton Broadcasting also bid on the radio rights.

In a similar scoring system, iHeart Media outscored Leighton 78.22 to 69.06.

This marked the first time UND has opened its TV rights in a decade.

In 2012, UND awarded its television rights to Midco, signing a five-year deal worth $1 million. When that contract expired, UND extended it for another five years at $1.425 million instead of opening it for bids.

However, the state requires UND to post a request for proposal (RFP) every 10 years, so it once again opened the rights for bidding this spring.

Last month, UND told the Herald it is looking to sign a four-year TV contract with three separate options for two-year add-ons. The two-year add-ons would have to be agreed upon by both UND and the rights-holder, which could take the contract to the next required RFP in 2032.

"It's not going to be a 10-year decision all at once," former UND associate athletic director Kyle Doperalski said in May. "But it could potentially be one."

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The exact details of the contracts will be worked out in the next week or two, but certain aspects of the TV deal could change significantly.

For one, road football games are now expected to be a part of the TV package.

The last time UND signed a TV deal, it was in the Big Sky Conference, which gives full television rights to the home team. Since then, the Fighting Hawks have moved to the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which allows road teams to bring their TV rights-holder.

Pregame hockey shows also are a possibility.

UND athletics radio broadcasts have typically been carried on The Fox (96.1 FM) or The Cat (100.3 FM).

In a letter to Midco and iHeart, UND's procurement office wrote:

"We would like to thank you for your time and efforts in preparing a response to this solicitation.

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We invite you to contact the Procurement Officer if you would like additional information or have any questions about the evaluation process.

The successful vendor is instructed not to begin work, purchase materials, or enter into subcontracts relating to the project until both the recipient and the University sign the contract."

Related Topics: GRAND FORKSUND SPORTS
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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