SBD/January 20, 2011/Media

Univ. Of Oklahoma Looks To Follow UT With Launch Of Its Own Network

Oklahoma not expecting planned Sooners network to copy the UT-ESPN model
The Univ. of Oklahoma "wants to have its own television channel up and operating sometime" during '11, according to John Hoover of TULSA WORLD. OU Senior Associate AD/Communications Kenny Mossman said, "That's our goal. ... I wish I could tell you exactly when. But we've worked on it long enough and have enough of an idea of what our model will resemble that we feel confident we'll be launching something in the not-too-distant future." ESPN and the Univ. of Texas yesterday announced a 20-year, $300M agreement for a new UT network, and Mossman said that he "didn't think OU's model would be the same as Texas' -- one independent network providing all the content." But he added, "That's not inconceivable." Mossman noted that OU two years ago spent $2.5M on a "high-definition control room, cameras and upgrades to the TV studio at Owen Field." A new studio "would be needed for an OU channel if it's produced on campus, but at least the groundwork is in place." Hoover reports the new 24-hour OU channel "will provide original programming that includes live and recorded Olympic sporting events, coaches shows and possibly men's and women's basketball games and even a football game or two each year." There also would be "plenty of historic programming." Mossman: "We don't want to announce something and have a big splash and then two years later it's not there anymore. We want to make sure we've done our due diligence for something that can stand the test of time" (TULSA WORLD, 1/20).

OKLAHOMA LIKELIEST SCHOOL TO FOLLOW SUIT: SPORTING NEWS' Dave Curtis writes besides UT, OU "might be the likeliest school to chase the network option." The combination of "dollars, athletic prominence and fan base, both local and national, makes the network conceivable." Other schools of "that profile have elected to go a different route." Ohio State "has folded its television possibilities" into Big Ten Network, while Florida "has tied its multimedia rights into a lucrative deal with IMG." ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus yesterday while announcing the partnership with UT said that he "doesn't expect many peer projects." Magnus: "I don't think it could be replicated at any other schools very easily, based on their size and scope" (SPORTING NEWS TODAY, 1/20 issue). YAHOO SPORTS' Matt Hinton wrote the "only question" following the UT announcement is "what other school has the cachet to follow suit" with its own network. Ohio State and Michigan are "locked into the Big Ten Network," and while the SEC "went out of its way last spring to emphasize that its schools are free to pursue their own media deals, no single member brings quite the high-population, high-growth, multi-market oomph of a Texas on its own." Notre Dame's current deal with NBC "expires in 2015," but the "potential for an all-Irish network may depend on how much stock a few executives are willing to put into the team waking up the echoes at some point in the foreseeable future after almost 20 years of persistent mediocrity on the field" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/19).
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