SBD/August 19, 2011/Media

LHN A Week From Launch Has Yet To Announce Deal With Cable Providers

Longhorn Network launches a week from Friday, but it “has yet to announce any signed contracts that would make its broadcasts available to consumers in Central Texas and beyond,” according to Gary Dinges of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus said, "We'll have a lot more to share in the next eight days. It's not a great concern right now. It's just simply the way it works." A Time Warner Cable spokesperson said this week that “talks with ESPN are ongoing and that executives are hopeful a deal can be reached in the near future.” TWC is the “area's dominant cable provider” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/19). Magnus confirmed that the network “has yet to complete a single deal with cable, satellite or telecom carriers but called the eight days until next Friday’s launch ‘an eternity in this world.’” Magnus indicated that the “pivotal day for carriage is Sept. 3 when the Longhorns football team opens its season against Rice.” Meanwhile, Magnus said that ESPN “had preliminary discussions with Oklahoma about a similar Sooners network, but they didn’t get very far.” Magnus: “They have everything Texas has but the population” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/19).

HIGH SCHOOL PLANS STILL ON THE AGENDA: ESPN VP/PR Josh Krulewitz on Thursday said that LHN “still intends to feature high school highlights as part of its news coverage.” In San Antonio, Mike Finger noted the comment comes “a week after an NCAA ruling forced the network to scuttle plans to broadcast entire prep football games.” ESPN though is “taking a position that the content of news programs should not be regulated by the NCAA.” Krulewitz: “We appreciate and support the discussions surrounding the complexities of televising stand-alone high school games on Longhorn Network. In the context of news coverage, it’s obviously a completely separate matter and we plan to report on high school athletics in a way that is relevant to the audience” (MYSANANTONIO.com, 8/18). A Big 12 spokesperson said that the conference, which “voted this month to ban live telecasts of high school games on the network, will defer to the NCAA for a rules interpretation” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 8/19).

SNEAK PEEK: LHN on Thursday opened its doors to UT student-athletes, coaches and administrators for a behind-the-scenes media tour of its studio and working space. The studio was decorated with vintage Longhorns memorabilia, and UT women's Swimming & Diving coach Kim Brackin said, "It didn't really hit me until I walked in here today, and I saw how exceptional the studio was, that I understood how special this network is going to be for us." LHN will go live with a two-hour special from the UT campus on Friday, Aug. 26 at 6:00pm CT. The network's on-air team of Lowell Galindo, Samantha Steele and Kevin Dunn will be joined on the set by ESPN’s "College GameDay" crew featuring Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard and Erin Andrews (UT). The local media was also invited to LHN Thursday and in Austin, Kirk Bohls writes the studios “look slick and professional” and the operation is “first-class in every way” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/19).
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