Learfield IMG College reaches settlement with DoJ over antitrust claims
Learfield IMG College, the merger between IMG College, the college sports arm of the international sports and entertainment agency, and college sports specialist Learfield, has reached a settlement with the US Justice Department over antitrust allegations.
The Justice Department said in a court filing: “IMG and Learfield have agreed or otherwise coordinated to limit competition between one another and between themselves and smaller competitors.”
However, the company claimed that the allegations referred to were “historical practice,” pointing out that the government found no wrongdoing.
It said: “Given that the DoJ has now raised an issue with the idea of multi-media rights joint ventures, we have agreed to limit the practice going forward.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Learfield IMG College is prohibited from agreeing with competitors to refrain from bidding or from submitting joint bids. It must also put compliance measures in place.
The merger between IMG College and Learfield, which was first announced in October 2017, was completed last month.
They said that Learfield IMG College creates “a dynamic service provider that will support collegiate institutions, conferences and arenas across the country with enhanced services, more consistent promotions, technological innovation and greater economic opportunities.”
Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Learfield IMG College will provide services including: branding, licensing and multimedia rights management; access to professional concessions, ticket sales and fan engagement systems and support; publishing, radio, digital and social expertise; and campus-wide business and sponsorship development.
The merger had appeared to be on the cards ever since the pair jointly launched IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions, a ticket sales company, in 2012.
IMG College represented around 90 US universities and college sports conferences, while Learfield sold media and marketing rights for 120 colleges, including the University of Alabama, Penn State, the University of Oklahoma and Texas A&M, as well as conferences such as the Big Ten.
The two agencies’ multimedia management services included sponsorship, media rights and production, licensing, hospitality, signage and stadium seating.