SBJ/August 20-26, 2012/Media

Announcement expected on new University of Oklahoma sports channel

News of the University of Oklahoma’s planned sports channel first broke in the summer of 2010. Details surrounding the channel — which actually is more of an OU-branded programming block on Fox’s regional sports networks — were solidified in January.

But after two years of negotiating and planning, the channel’s official announcement is expected to come as early as this week, sources said.

Carrying the working title of Sooner Sports, the channel will exist as a programming block on Fox Sports Oklahoma and Fox Sports Southwest, giving it immediate distribution to 8.6 million homes.

Fox Sports will manage the areas of Oklahoma’s website, SoonerSports.com, that live stream some sports and archive others. The Sooners’ website previously sold an all-access programming pass for $9.95 a month. It’s not clear how that programming will be offered in the new deal. CBSSports.com manages the rest of the site.

Fox expects its Sooner Sports-branded programming to be available via TV Everywhere eventually.

FSN is devoting 1,000 hours a year of TV time to all University of Oklahoma sports except, notably, live football. As it has in past years, Oklahoma will make its institutional football game — or the game that the Big 12 permits each school to broadcast itself — available to consumers on pay-per-view. Last year, the Sooners’ PPV football game against Ball State was available for $39.95.

FSN is not planning to reopen its cable and satellite carriage deals. So it’s likely to use the PPV revenue from OU’s football game to help monetize the new Sooner Sports programming block.

By comparison, the University of Texas’ Longhorn Network collects its revenue from license fees paid by cable and satellite operators. It still has not cut deals with the biggest distributors in Texas, including Time Warner Cable, Comcast and DirecTV.

In addition to live sports, the branded block of programming will include everything from coaches’ shows, game previews, replays and highlights shows.

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