The long rumored Longhorn Television Network finally became a reality today. ESPN is ponying up 300 million dollars over 20 years to get this behemoth going. So, yeah, look for the WWL to be completely impartial when reporting on Texas athletics when they have that much coin invested in this team. The long ranging effects of a move of this magnitude might be huge. Or not. Who knows at this point after the summer of conference realignment armegeddon that was forecasted that we somehow managed to survive.
Tonight, I’m sure all those involved with the University of Texas are probably going all Scrooge McDuck and diving into their pits of coin. But, I have to wonder…what exactly are they going to show on a 24 hour network devoted to just one team? It’s been said that in this deal that ESPN/Fox Sports will still broadcast the Longhorns marquee games to a national audience rather than going on the Longhorn Network. For example, you can expect Texas/Oklahoma to be on ESPN while the Longhorn Network will get exclusive broadcasting rights for games of the caliber of teams like Eastern State University. Sure, Texas fans will tune in for that…but is there enough of them to attract advertisers to keep this network financially feasible? Will there be enough of them tuning in for live water polo coverage? I admit I have this stereotypical view of this network being 4 hour blocks of a Champ Kind knock off breaking down Big 12 Field Hockey standings.
These days, the Big Ten Network is pretty fantastic after it weathered its initial struggles. Now, the BTN is certainly more stable, but it still struggles with having enough content to fill each day. A typical day usually consists of hours and hours of University programming, replays of old games, and sometimes a live sporting event. Plus, the BTN has the advantage of drawing content from 12 schools instead of just one compared to the Longhorn Network. During the summer months when the major sports are off, the BTN is extremely dull. I know baseball is big at Texas, but that will basically be pretty much the only live sports programming that they will offer from April-August.
It’s a pretty scary era of college athletics we are entering. Everything is about money. Billions of dollars are being spent and profited on student athletes. The largest sports network in the world has a 300 million dollar deal with one of the most profitable teams in the nation. It’s going to be interesting to see if this will prove to be a huge success or a colossal mistake.