The possibility of its non-conference game against newly minted FBS member Texas State airing on the Longhorn Network has unnamed sources at Texas Tech “extremely disappointed,” report Chris Level & Aaron Dickens of RedRaiderSports.com.
ESPN paid Texas $15 million for rights to the experimental network. UT has made out great; ESPN is left with a channel that reaches just 1 million homes and faces rejection from TV providers like a kid selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. The Worldwide Leader’s efforts to fill LHN with original content viewers would demand their providers carry has run into dead-ends. The NCAA put the kibosh on proposed high school broadcasts, rightfully citing the unfair recruiting advantage it would give UT.
But it is an ESPN property, and Texas State’s host conference (WAC) is contracted to ESPN. Two birds killed with one stone, right? Er, well…
Tech’s alleged objection to this hypothetical broadcast is understandable. Imagine “Michigan vs. Air Force: Brought to you by Ohio State.” Eh eh, not happening. Such a presentation would serve to make Tech look low rent, a little brother borrowing big brother’s car because he doesn’t have one of his own.
And until LHN finds a larger audience, that car’s an ’88 Civic hatchback.
Consider Tech’s game would be available to more eyeballs on Spike, IFC, Fox Movie Channel, and so on and so on and so on. Not ideal, particularly in a game the Red Raiders are likely to roll.
Of note is that Tech objected to LHN before its launch last summer. The channel was a contentious point among Big 12 partners, but its struggles gaining contraction have changed how those schools distribute Tier 3 broadcasts.
Oklahoma established a Sooner network that will work as content provider rather than distributor; West Virginia is seeking to bid out its rights. None are likely to strike the same oil UT hit with its ESPN deal, but LHN has a long way to go before meeting its vision.