The university, with the help of Host Communications, Lexington, Ky., has produced what is believed to be the first Internet-based video magazine. "The Texas V-Mag" will chronicle the 2005 Longhorns season.
"It's reality TV via the Internet," said Kathleen Hessert, CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based NewGame Communications, which is producing the magazine.
The technology itself is not unusual, but no one is using video in a magazine format in this particular way, said Don Nicholas, editor and managing director, Mequoda Group, which provides consulting to Internet publishers. "Of the 300 case studies we have [of publishers] using video, not one is doing what the University of Texas is doing," he said.
For the price of $24.95 for four issues delivered during the season, subscribers receive a slick, rich-media product that guarantees at least 50 minutes of TV-quality video per issue. "V-Mag" will provide links to other sites-including sites where fans can purchase Texas apparel and paraphernalia-and give subscribers a behind-the-scenes look that they can't get from the traditional print and broadcast media outlets that cover the Longhorns.
Indeed, the first trial issue features a tour of Texas head coach Mack Brown's office and a chronicle of a typical day for star quarterback Vince Young, including video of him in the locker room and the film room studying tape of upcoming opponents. The trial issue can be downloaded at texassports.com.
Texas already has a deal on Yahoo with Yahoo Sports through a subscription service that charges $4.95 for one school or $12.95 for about 100 schools to listen to live audio game coverage, and access some limited video content. A Yahoo spokesman said the "V-Mag" debut won't change the portal's relationship with the college. "The more schools interested in getting subscribers, the more interest we would have in our video content," the spokesman said.
Said Ms. Hessert: "We're hoping, obviously, if [Yahoo] thinks there's value in showing Texas athletics, they will find lots of advertisers to jump in."
Host Communications, a collegiate-sports-marketing company that holds the multimedia rights for the university and manages advertising on the college's sports Web sites, will market "V-Mag" and plans to sell video ads to marketers. But no rate card has been set yet and no advertisers are signed on.
Host will promote "V-Mag" on University of Texas TV and radio broadcasts and publications, as well as on the college Web sites. The marketing firm also has sent out an e-mail blast to the 100,000 fans who have opted in for promotions from the college. "V-Mag" will also be touted on the public address system and on the Jumbotron at games and on the "Longhorn Sports Center With Mack Brown," the coach's TV show.
"Technology-wise, it's exciting," said Scott Willingham, general manager of Host Communications. "And the kind of coverage in `V-Mag' is exciting, too, like scenes from the locker room and exclusive interviews."
Coach Brown said "V-Mag" is not in competition with the media. "We appreciate the media," he said. "Their story is different from what our stories will be. The media present the news; `The V-Mag' will tell the story."
One particular strength of "V-Mag" is that the University of Texas owns the school's alumni lists and can use the online publication to reach out to them, said Renny Gleeson, senior VP-managing director, Carat Interactive. "Also, from a recruitment standpoint, it's a great way for UT to reach athletes," something the coach himself said.