Ole Miss-Texas Matchup Boosts Longhorn Net Football Schedule; Third Game Possible
Longhorn Network will televise two of the Univ. of Texas’ first three football games this fall -- the Aug. 31 season opener against New Mexico State and the Sept. 14 game against Ole Miss, according to Mark Rosner of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. The Kansas-Texas matchup on Nov. 2, also “may be carried as well.” A KU official last week said that discussions “are ongoing.” But the Ole Miss-Texas matchup is “arguably bigger, as the Rebels are “regarded as a borderline top-25 team.” TV rights to the game are “controlled by the Big 12 Conference because it’s a Longhorns home game.” An ESPN spokesperson said that the net’s contract with the Big 12 “allows for the cable network to be carried on LHN.” Big 12 Associate Commissioner/Communications Bob Burda said, “They exercised their prerogative. A conference game requires consent from both schools and the conference. A non-conference game does not.” Rosner notes fans in Mississippi “could possibly have access to the Texas-Ole Miss game on local television.” Iowa State’s conference game at Texas last season “was televised by LHN, but also was made available on ABC affiliates serving much of Iowa” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 6/5). In Dallas, Trey Scott notes in addition to the Iowa State game, LHN last year broadcasted "two low-marquee non-conference games," but this year's Ole Miss game "will be the biggest assignment the network's had yet" (DALLASNEWS.com, 6/5).
DESPERATE ACT? CBSSPORTS.com’s Jerry Hinnen wrote LHN at this stage has “precious little leverage in its carriage distribution battle, and handing it the Longhorns' biggest nonconference matchup of the season ... appears to be the strongest card left in the LHN's increasingly limited deck.” Hinnen: “All of that is also simply the harsh reality of the corner into which the LHN -- and the Longhorns -- have currently backed.” Meanwhile, it is “good news that there should be some workaround" that will allow Ole Miss fans to watch the game "other than trying to make it out to the local sports bar, which might not have LHN either.” It “remains to be seen exactly what these ‘accommodations’ might be," but an "expensive pay-per-view option might not be a dramatic improvement” (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/4).