SBD/September 25, 2013/Media

Oklahoma-Texas Big 12 Hoops Opener on Longhorn Net Draws Ire Of OU Fans

ESPN set aside certain games such as OU-Texas to draw more viewers to LHN
Longhorn Network now is "affecting college basketball fans," as the Univ. of Oklahoma's Big 12 Conference opener against Texas is slated to air on the cable net, according to Berry Tramel of the OKLAHOMAN. Out of 90 conference games, "only seven have been bypassed by the ESPN brand." One of those seven games -- Oklahoma State-Kansas -- "will be on CBS." Tramel: "Basically, six games didn’t make the cut." ESPN, which owns LHN, has discovered there is "not enough quality programming to devote an entire television channel to just one college athletic program," and the public outcry for "such a channel is not strong, even with a fan base as mighty as Texas." Thus, ESPN set aside certain games "to draw more eyeballs or new subscribers" to LHN. The move "frankly is OK from the Texas side," but for fans of some other Big 12 schools, that means "either they can’t watch their team play, or they watch their team play under the brand of the opposition." However, ESPN is "not in the business of placating OU basketball fans," and LHN "needs inventory." If it means OU fans "don’t get to watch their conference opener, so be it." If it means "watching OU’s conference opener amid a cavalcade of Texas promotions, so be it." The move could "create a backlash," and not just from "basketball zealots, but from fans tired of Texas’ influence on the conference." The move by ESPN and LHN was made possible by the Big 12's decision "to forego a conference network and let schools branch out on their own." That is where OU "made its mistake." The school's alliance with Fox Sports "has proven to be fine and solid and good television for ardent OU fans." But Fox Sports "is not ESPN" (OKLAHOMAN, 9/23).
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