OU wants to launch TV channel this year
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The University of Oklahoma wants to have its own television channel up and operating sometime during 2011.
“That’s our goal,” OU senior associate athletic director Kenny Mossman said.
On Wednesday, the University of Texas and ESPN announced they reached a 20-year, $300 million agreement for the network to provide exclusive UT content on a new channel. The news spurred questions about a topic that came up frequently during last summer’s conference realignment talks, like when will OU launch its own TV channel?
“I wish I could tell you exactly when,” Mossman said. “But we’ve worked on it long enough and have enough of an idea of what our model will resemble that we feel confident we’ll be launching something in the not-too-distant future.”
Mossman said he didn’t think OU’s model would be the same as Texas’ — one independent network providing all the content — but said, “that’s not inconceivable.”
An article in last month’s Sports Business Journal reported that OU and its multimedia rights holder, Learfield Sports, have had discussed partnering on a channel with Fox Sports Net, Cox Cable and ESPN, and said Cox and Fox were considered front-runners in the deal, conceivably with FSN providing content and Cox providing distribution.
OU signed a 10-year, $75 million extension with Learfield in September 2007.
Mossman noted that two years ago, OU spent $2.5 million on a high-definition control room, cameras and upgrades to the TV studio at Owen Field. The primary purpose for that was to operate the new $9.6 million high-definition video boards (including those at Lloyd Noble Center). A new studio would be needed for an OU channel if it’s produced on campus, but at least the groundwork is in place.
“What we have here,” Mossman said, “is some infrastructure that puts us in a little different position than maybe some other schools.”
Over the past few years, Mossman said, OU has positioned itself “to do this at least somewhat independently if we have to. If we don’t, then we’ll align with an organization or network that would allow us to go about it a different way.”
Sports Business Journal reported that OU is targeting a launch date for next fall, and athletic director Joe Castiglione told the Journal OU was “making good progress” and was “being diligent” to “develop a product that can be sustained for the long-term.”
Said Mossman: “We don’t want to announce something and have a big splash and then two years later it’s not there any more. We want to make sure we’ve done our due diligence for something that can stand the test of time.”
The new OU channel, on a 24-hour basis, will provide original programming that includes live and recorded Olympic sporting events, coaches’ shows and possibly men’s and women’s basketball games and even a football game or two each year (which would depending largely on the Big 12’s TV contracts; the league’s deal with Fox expires after 2011 and ABC ESPN expires after 2015).
There also would be plenty of historic programming, such as Barry Switzer or Bud Wilkinson coaches shows, and replay of historic Sooner games. It also likely would include campus events and even some academic programming, though the basis will be in sports.
“It’s an opportunity for us to get pretty creative,” Mossman said. “We’d have a TV channel to fill, and I think that’s pretty exciting to think about what kind of TV system we could put together that our fans would enjoy.”
OU celebrates winning the Big 12 Championship in December. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World