In the battle between Oklahoma and Texas for superiority in athletic TV programming, the Sooners apparently will have the edge in distribution and the Longhorns the edge in rights fees.
According to a report Monday in Sports Business Daily, OU is close to announcing a deal with Fox Sports Oklahoma and Fox Sports Southwest that will place more than 1,000 hours of OU Network-branded programming in a combined 8.6 million homes of the two networks.
That's a huge advantage over the Longhorn Network, which has barely gotten off the ground in Texas, and reportedly has about 4 million subscribers nationally, most of which are on Verizon FiOS.
While Texas' deal with ESPN for the Longhorn Network is valued at $300 million over 20 years, OU's deal with Fox is believed to be worth much less, both in terms of value and length, Sports Business Daily reported.
OU athletic spokesman Kenny Mossman declined to comment Tuesday on the trade publication's report.
“We have continued an aggressive approach in launching expanded content distribution through a sustainable network,” Mossman said in a statement. “Our progress has been significant, but as we have said since we began this process, we won't address specifics until an agreement has been finalized.”
Fox Sports Southwest spokesman Ramon Alvarez also declined to comment.
Between the FSOK and Fox Sports Southwest, the OU programming would be carried to cable and satellite homes in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and a small portion of New Mexico.
Texas subscribers apparently would get more OU programming than any of the Texas schools, unless they are among the small segment that subscribe to the Longhorn Network.
According to the report, one of the primary objectives of OU officials in striking a deal with Fox was to launch their branded content on a partner that offered complete distribution from the start, unlike the struggling Longhorn Network, which has yet to be picked up by Texas' two biggest cable operators (Time Warner Cable and Comcast) or its two biggest satellite operators (DirecTV and Dish Network).
The programming will be branded either the Sooner Network or Oklahoma Network and will feature third-tier TV rights, including at least one live football game, several men's and women's basketball games and Olympic sports. Third-tier TV rights include live games that are not picked up by the Big 12's primary network partners, ESPN and Fox.
In the Big 12, schools do not share third-tier rights with the rest of the conference unlike some other conferences, including the Big Ten and Pac 12.
A broadband component also is expected to be part of the deal. The OU-branded broadband site would feature live streaming and other on-demand content, according to the report.
In addition to sports, the OU-branded programming block would include university events, such as commencements and guest speakers, and programming from other academic departments.