Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy came out firing at the Longhorn Network, telling Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports that the network is a failure and if the Big 12 is to survive, it must be eliminated.
Gee. That doesn’t sound harsh at all.
“If we don’t eliminate the Longhorn Network and create our own network, they’re going to continue to have issues with this league,” Gundy said as the Cowboys returned from spring break to continue spring practice.
He continued: “You don’t have a Big 12 Network; you have a network within the league that people consider a failure.”
Longhorn Network is still hemorrhaging money, though not nearly as much as it did soon after its 2011 launch. Gundy says that the lack of a Big 12 Network will damage the conference through both its marketing and recruiting efforts.
“Everything is based on marketing,” Gundy said. “Right now the Big 12 is not getting the marketing we need because of the Longhorn Network. Now, nobody wants to hear that but …”
“You are getting the SEC Network, and you are getting the Big Ten Network and you are getting the Pac[-12 Network],” Gundy said. “Until we come together as a group [and] find a financial solution to eliminating the Longhorn Network, [there will be issues].”
OK, but while the SEC and Big Ten schools are all getting plenty of money from their respective networks, the Pac-12 Network has been a failure. It’s still battling carriage disputes and schools are receiving payouts far lower than expected.
While I think saying that the Big 12 forming its own TV network would be a mistake is a little over the top, I do think the conference should keep its options open as streaming becomes more prevalent. Instead of potentially locking itself into contracts with providers and extended carriage disputes, perhaps ESPN could partner with the Big 12 to create a standalone streaming network, potentially as a trial run for an a la carte ESPN package for cord cutters.
Yes, it’s radical, but it would probably take until the 2018 football season for a Big 12 TV network to really get off the ground – how different will the cable landscape look then? Will this even be viable for the parties involved? At this point, it probably makes more sense for the Big 12 to take a step back and see where other dominoes outside of the sports world start falling.