A Florida State helmet in 2022. Nov 19, 2022; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles helmets with stickers honoring the University of Virginia seen before the game against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels are becoming quite an important part of the overall sports landscape. And we’re now at a point where even individual schools are launching their own. The latest to do so is Florida State:

Here’s more from that piece, by Michael Smith:

Florida State is teaming with Connected Television Group to create the Seminole Sports Streaming Network, a video-on-demand product that is expected to launch on Dec. 4 with exclusive FSU all-sports content.

The Seminole Sports Streaming Network will be available via Apple TV, Fire TV, Google Play, LG, Roku and Xbox as well as desktop and mobile devices.

AD Mike Alford cited the network’s capability “to elevate the distribution” of FSU’s original content globally as a primary factor in the initiative. The streaming network will distribute all aspects of digital content, including podcasts and other radio offerings.

Jim Lindell, CRO of Connected Television Group, ran point on the deal with the Seminoles. The Las Vegas-based company also has streaming network deals with Texas A&M as well as USA Swimming and The Volume, Colin Cowherd’s network of premium podcasters.

There are several interesting aspects to this. One is that the ACC as a whole already launched FAST channel ACCDN Confidential in April 2021 as a football-focused offering in partnership with Syncbak and long-time ACC broadcaster Raycom Sports, and quickly expanded to cover basketball and more that summer. ACCDN content from Raycom is also available on YouTube. And that’s before we get into the linear ACC Network from ESPN, which has featured the Seminoles heavily (including with a docuseries on the 1999 team this fall).

Beyond that, this comes at a time when Florida State has been making serious noise about trying to leave the ACC. The last year-plus saw a lot of that, from president Richard McCullough saying the Seminoles would be “very aggressive” in realignment and were “getting a lot of help” last year and then adding that they would “have to very seriously consider leaving the ACC unless there is a radical change to the revenue distribution” this year (even after there was a partial change to the revenue distribution). And while the conference is adding Cal, Stanford and SMU next season, and paying those schools half to no shares for the time being, Florida State was not on board with that.

A FAST network itself for a school doesn’t necessarily mean all that much. While FAST networks are an important part of the strategy for many media outlets, they’re largely not a landing place for too many live games right now. And this is unlikely to spawn any level of the outcry we saw with, say, Texas’ Longhorn Network (which didn’t even live up to the hopes or fears many had for it); this is a supplemental, free, ad-supported product for shoulder programming for dedicated fans, not a linear network showing up on cable bills and prompting carriage disputes and/or realignment. And some of this is only just new distribution for content they were already creating.

And, as noted in Smith’s piece, this has already happened with some other schools. That includes Texas A&M (interestingly enough, one of the chief objectors to The Longhorn Network way back when). And other schools, like LSU, are taking a different subscription-focused approach to school-specific content. But it is notable to see this FAST move from Florida State, especially while the school is talking about enlisting private equity funding for realignment and continuing to make those loud noises about realignment.

This network may be a way to increase Florida State’s individual brand beyond what they’re able to do through ACC channels, and to do so globally. And it could also help prove the value of their brand (and the interest in even non-game shoulder programming on it) to outside conferences, investors, and more. And they’re certainly striking while the iron is hot on the football side, with the 11-0 Seminoles currently No. 5 in the CFP rankings and the AP Poll. We’ll see how this works out for them.

[Sports Business Journal]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.