FARGO – The University of North Dakota’s athletic department will soon send out a request for proposals on its television broadcasting rights and it is possible that Forum Communications Co. and KVLY-TV will join current rights holder Midco Sports as bidders.
UND associate athletic director for field operations Kyle Doperalski said this week that the Fighting Hawks media rights tender will be released in the coming weeks for television and radio rights. He said the UND expects to name the rights holders by early summer.
Midco Sports of Sioux Falls, SD has held the television rights for UND sports since 2012. The last time the rights were available, in 2017, UND awarded Midco a five-year contract without a bid because there was no other interested parties.
But Fargo-based Forum Communications, owner of WDAY-TV and The Forum, is known to be interested this time around. FCC Vice President of Broadcasting Josh Rohrer did not confirm this for The Forum, saying only that the company is still looking to deliver content to viewers.
Industry sources say Gray Television’s KVLY-TV might be interested in showing UND football matches, should the school be willing to split the overall rights. KVLY aired North Dakota State football for 12 years before Forum Communications secured the rights to Bison in 2021, so the station could use UND to fill that hole.
Doperalski would not comment on potential interested parties, saying the school expects multiple entities to be interested in both television and radio rights.
Midco aired NDSU men’s and women’s basketball until Forum Communication secured the rights in 2021.
The NCAA Division I hockey program, UND’s eight-time national champion, is the price of the broadcast package. The Fighting Hawks have a passionate following in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota and generate strong local television viewership.
Entities that actually bid on UND rights may depend on what requirements and desires the Fighting Hawks include in the bidding, and what school leaders deem important.
The tender is not yet public, but Doperalski offered general elements sought by UND.
They understand, of course, the money. But Doperalski said things like production value, content creation, platforms through which content can be consumed, game coverage, distribution/reach and promotional aspects are all important.
“We’re super interested in what comes back,” he said. “We want to see what ideas potential bidders have.”
Doperalski seems to indicate that beyond game making, content creation and distribution will be a key aspect of the offerings.
“To create and have as much content as possible in all the different avenues that people are consuming,” Doperalski said.
He specifically cited a series called “Through These Doors” on the UND hockey program as an example. It was originally produced by the UND athletic department, but Midco took it over and now produces it for the UND. UND is expected to want its TV broadcast partner to produce similar shows for other teams.
Although hockey is the big benefit in terms of viewership and profit for the rights holder – it would likely feature around 18 hockey games a year – the UND contract would also include the potential for 9-10 football games and more 30 men’s and women’s basketball games. Games. The UND might also want other sports to be televised on a limited basis.
UND radio rights have belonged to iHeart Radio-Grand Forks for years. Leighton Broadcasting is the other Grand Forks radio group that could submit a bid.