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Volume 22 No. 19
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SNY adds second feed for Connecticut

New York-based SportsNet New York quietly has launched a second feed in Connecticut that will carry many of that state’s sports teams.

The regional sports network has spent the past several months testing the feed, which is branded SNY-CT. It will feature between 100 and 200 additional hours of programming per year.

A separate feed represents a low-cost way for a channel like SNY to further localize content without having to launch a full-fledged channel. All SNY viewers will see Mets games and shows like “SportsNight.” But when SNY shows New York-centric content like high school basketball or repeat programming, its feed in Connecticut will replace that programming with Connecticut-focused sports.

It plans to ramp up its offering fully toward the end of November, with the end of college football and the start of college basketball seasons.

“We think there’s an opportunity in Connecticut — not for a full channel — but to customize parts of SNY for Connecticut viewers,” said SNY President Steve Raab. “It became a natural opportunity for us.”

Raab has considered the idea of launching a separate feed in Connecticut for at least two years. He finally decided to do it after seeing the strong ratings that University of Connecticut sports programming were generating in the state.

For example, 13 UConn basketball games on SNY averaged a 5.0 rating in the Hartford DMA, paced by a February matchup against Providence, which drew a 7.3 rating. Five football games averaged a 2.9 rating in Hartford, topping out with a 6.1 against Cincinnati.

Last August, SNY became the official TV home of UConn football and men’s basketball, a move that helped SNY gain cable distribution throughout Connecticut.

“The UConn ratings in Connecticut were really strong,” Raab said. “We were encouraged by that.”

SNY has signed deals with Fairfield University for three games (mostly basketball) and Quinnipiac University for six games (mostly basketball and hockey). It’s also had serious conversations — but no deals yet — with Yale and the AHL’s Sound Tigers.

These are described as programming partnerships that do not involve rights fees.

It also has the rights to re-air UConn football and basketball games and plans to show evergreen programming, like interviews with UConn basketball coaches Geno Auriemma and Jim Calhoun.

SNY executives say the move already has attracted Connecticut-specific advertisers, including People’s United Bank, Town Fair Tire, DiGiorgi Roofing and Siding, and Blimpie.

“It gives Connecticut-specific advertisers a chance to focus on a more narrow audience,” Raab said.

Raab said he has no immediate plans for other feeds in New Jersey and upstate New York. But if the Connecticut feed is successful, he expects to look into those markets.

“This is a big piece for us to bite off and digest,” Raab said. “If it works in Connecticut, are there other areas that will work? Can you create or gain rights to content to make all this hyper localization meaningful? A lot of pieces have to come together.”