Thursday, January 20, 2011

Longhorn $ports Network

The stakes just got a lot higher in the big money world of college athletics Wednesday with the announcement that the University of Texas and ESPN have partnered to create a 24-hour Texas sports network that will pay the university $300 million over 20 years. The network will show every Texas home athletic event that was not already promised to another network, which is a boon to non-revenue sports like cross country and rowing, and a huge recruiting tool for the Longhorns. It's also a dangerous sign that the big money of college athletics may be getting too big; Texas is already the richest sports program in the country and this makes the Longhorns look suspiciously like a professional sports franchise.

From a media standpoint, the main question is whether audiences will watch 24/7 programming like softball and swimming. The big money maker, Longhorn football, is already committed to other broadcast outlets, although the new network will get at least one football game. If--and its still a big if at this point--Texas can create an audience, it will send a signal to other powerful programs (Oklahoma, USC, et. al.) that they can do the same.

And what's keeping Texas from simply ditching its football broadcast commitments and going on its own? For now, conference affiliation, which the Longhorns say they want to keep. But the lure of keeping all that broadcast money to themselves--much like Notre Dame does--has to be very enticing. If that happens, the entire landscape of college athletics will shift dramatically as the big schools go their own way and leave the little fish to fend for themselves. (Remember it was Texas that held the key to all the conference realignment last summer).

The Texas-ESPN move got its impetus from the surprising success of the Big 10 network. BTN demonstrated that the demand for more sports programming was out there; now, Texas is trying it alone. If the Longhorns can pull it off, we may be entering a new--and potentially dangerous--world of college sports media.


Blogger connan said...

Now this is going to be cool I am a huge Longhorn fan and with my DISH Network system this will be a breaze because I have TV everyhere. Being a DISH employee I have some insight on how this works with your DISH system. First you have to have a 722 or 722k receiver connected to a Sling adapter and download are free app at are website and that’s it. There is no monthly fee if you don’t have a sling adapter you can purchase one for $99. This will work on a number of mobile devices that you can find on our online website.

8:12 AM  

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