Raycom Sports executive shares insight with Communications class

During his campus visit in January, Ken Haines, a 34-year veteran with Raycom Sports, provided Elon University students with an inside look into the ever-changing landscape of sports broadcasting. 

Ken Haines, Raycom Sports president and CEO, addresses students in the School of Communications’ 'Sports Information' course. 
Ken Haines, Raycom Sports president and CEO, addresses students in the School of Communications’ ‘Sports Information’ course. [/caption]​Raycom Sports president and CEO Ken Haines visited the School of Communications’ “Sports Information” course during Winter Term, sharing his thoughts on the evolving sports broadcasting landscape. The visit marked the fourth year Haines has spoken to students in Associate Professor Daniel M. Haygood’s class.

During his classroom visit, Haines explained that he expects the money flowing from the broadcast and cable industry to secure exclusive rights for televising sports properties will continue to increase dramatically in the future. The executive went as far as to say the 14-year, $10.8 billion deal the NCAA made with CBS and Turner Broadcasting for the rights to televise the men’s annual basketball tournament is not close to the ceiling for sports broadcasting.

“The immediacy and excitement of live sports content has become even more valued to networks and cable companies. This live and unpredictable nature of sports makes it ideal for broadcasting. People want to watch sports live,” Haines said.

A 34-year veteran with Raycom Sports, Haines is ideal positioned to discuss the money being paid by companies to sports leagues for rights to televise sporting events and games. Most notably, he negotiated a 15-year contract with ESPN and then Fox to televise Atlantic Coast Conference basketball games until 2027. This cooperative agreement among the three sports producers was unprecedented but necessary for Raycom.

Haines told students that his company’s ability to survive and thrive among an increasingly competitive and crowded sports broadcasting arena is a continuous challenge. The competition for televising sports properties is increasingly and intensely competitive.

He cited a pivotal moment for sports broadcasting occurred in 1984, likely a decade before most of the students were born. That year the Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA’s hold on college football television rights in the NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma decision. This opened up college football broadcasting to all interested producers. As a result, the broadcasting rights fees for college football and basketball skyrocketed.

“We have had to evolve our company over the years to make sure we are in a position to be successful. Change has been absolutely necessary,” Haines explained.

Haygood believes Haines’ yearly visits are immensely beneficial to his students and their class discussions. “Having national leaders in sports broadcasting like Ken Haines come to speak directly with our students really helps bring the issues in sports information and sports broadcasting to life,” the professor said. “Ken has been a consistent and loyal supporter of Elon University.”

In addition to the topic of television rights, Haines also discussed the keys to having a successful career in the sports broadcasting field.

Strategic communications major Harrison Raby, a sophomore from Charlotte, was impressed with the insight Haines shared. “Mr. Haines’ presentation taught us a lot about the value of being creative and taking initiative in the sports communications industry. His honesty and descriptions of different points in his career helped me better understand what working in sports communications is like and how to be successful in that industry,” Raby said.

Although not an Elon graduate, Haines said that he feels a bond with university and has been a strong supporter of the institution, lecturing on campus when he can. “I like what you guys are doing here,” Haines said. “I tell everybody that Elon is my favorite university for obtaining a great education in the media.”

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