We had heard since day one of the Longhorn Network that the University of Oklahoma had a TV deal in the works themselves. There had been lots of speculation as to just how this Network would happen. All we heard from the OU Athletic Department was that the wheels were moving and the Sooner Network would compete directly with the LHN.
(photo by OU Athletic Department
This past week, The University unveiled Sooner Sports TV powered by Fox. According to the announcement, the Sooners will produce sports programming which will air on Fox Sports Networks.
From day one, the Sooner powers that be had suggested that having a dedicated OU TV channel was perhaps not the way to go. That thought appears to be prophetic as the Longhorn Network continues to struggle to gain viewership and even gain acceptance on the nation’s cable systems. Through the deal with Fox Sports, Sooner Sports TV has 9-million homes right off the bat, all located in key recruiting areas.
“Again, being able to launch and reach almost nine million people with the opportunity to grow that base is exciting,” said Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione. “We examined the amount of programming that we would have available to us. So getting at least 1,000 hours of programming on a multi-platform network really was exciting for us. This is at least 10 times the amount of programming OU has been able to offer, previously, to our fans.
“We did have a chance to examine several different options, including a stand-alone, 24/7 type of channel. But this really gives us the best of all possible worlds. We’ll have substantial OU branding and programming. Along with immediate and full distribution for fans throughout Oklahoma, Texas, our region, and as Jon mentioned, through the variety of FOX platforms around the country. The exciting part is it also gives us a chance to grow along with our media partner. We really thought this approach would serve our fans the best way possible.”
Castiglione hit this one right out of the park. Sooner Sports TV is coming out of the chutes with very significant and timely programming. The deal with Fox also allows the University to increase and modify its programming according to the demands of the viewers. When you think about it, trying to provide programming 24 hours a day for seven days a week is ludicrous. Not to mention, forcing viewers to subscribe to the channel in the first place.
With the Fox deal, the platforms are already in place and the Fox channels are typically available with most basic cable packages.
OU, Castiglione and Fox have hit a home run with Sooner Sports TV and will most likely be a trend setter for future deals between the cable channels and individual universities.