OU President Surprised By Big 12 Announcement To Form Conference Sports Net
Univ. of Oklahoma President David Boren yesterday said that OU "still plans to form its own network and that he was surprised the Big 12 went public with the consideration of a conference network," according to Jeff Latzke of the AP. The third-tier TV rights "control what would be aired on either a school's channel or a conference channel." OU "intends to keep those rights -- just as Texas has in creating its Longhorn Network." Latzke asks, "How could the Big 12 form a network without its two most powerful programs?" Boren said, "I don't know because I don't see quite how the conference network would work. I'm confused by that myself." OU AD Joe Castiglione added that he also "was caught off-guard" by the Big 12's announcement. Noting conference ADs were not part of Monday's Big 12 BOD meeting when the TV net was discussed, Castiglione said, "I really don't have the information to support why they made that statement. It has not been broached, or at least not recently." Boren said that Big 12 schools "are in the process this week of signing and sending in their agreements to provide the conference their grant of television rights -- a move that would allow the league to keep a school's television revenue even if it leaves for another conference" (AP, 10/26). Oklahoma State Univ. booster T. Boone Pickens said, "A conference network would offset the Longhorn Network. But the Sooners, I saw where they wanted to do their own network, so I don't know. I don't know how this thing's going to turn out. But as long as things are not the same, you're going to waste a lot of time talking about it, so you just get the same contract for everybody" (THE OKLAHOMAN, 10/27).
MORE NET TALK: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Smith & Ourand report with the SEC adding Texas A&M and possibly Missouri, the "concept of a conference channel is back on the table." Several sources said that the SEC and ESPN are "expected to explore such a channel over the next year or two as they modify their media rights deal to account for the addition" of A&M and Missouri. Conference expansion "enables either side, the conference or the network, to negotiate changes to their media contract." Neither the SEC nor ESPN would comment, but sources said that the launch of "any channel still is years away because the SEC has deals in place to distribute games to Fox Sports Net, Comcast SportsNet and over-the-air channels via the syndicated package." The conference "needs those games to start a channel" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/24 issue).