Could Oklahoma State-Texas game wind up on the Longhorn Network?
A Big 12 football team that doesn't bleed burnt orange or bow at the hooves of Bevo will be playing on the Longhorn Network this fall.
And it could be Oklahoma State.
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ESPN announced Tuesday afternoon that its new network would broadcast not one, but two Texas football games this season. The Texas-Rice game on Sept. 3 is slated for the network, and a Big 12 game to be named later will be broadcast on the burnt-orange channel, too.
But wait, there's more.
Fox granted ESPN a limited waiver that allows ESPN to shift a game from ABC to the Longhorn Network.
Those ABC games are typically the best of the bunch, the juiciest matchups and the spiciest storylines.
That means the World Wide Leader is looking for marquee games to broadcast on its $300 million venture. It wants to give people a reason to subscribe to the Longhorn Network. It wants to start recovering some of the money that it invested.
You can't blame ESPN for that.
But what about the Big 12 team that finds its game against Texas on the Longhorn Network? Are its fans going to be able to see the game? Or are they going to find one of its biggest games of the season blacked out?
Safe to say, after all, there aren't many cable companies north of the Red River that are going to be providing that channel to their subscribers.
According to the Big 12's agreement with ESPN, the network has to make a “best effort” to get the Longhorn Network game broadcast in the other team's area.
"We are actively in discussions with all distributors," ESPN spokesperson Keri Potts said, "and at the appropriate time, we will have an announcement on the conference game Longhorn Network will televise."
No doubt this is going to take some finagling.
ESPN could offer the broadcast to a local provider such as Cox Cable or could broadcast the game locally on one of its other networks. ESPN can do localized coverage of events. The NCAA women's basketball tournament, for example, is localized on both ESPN and ESPN2. No reason ESPNU or ESPN Classic couldn't be used the same way with the game chosen for the Longhorn Network.
And yet, the broadcast would still be the feed from the Longhorn Network. It would be the network's crew, its production, its feel. It would be tinged burnt orange.
Fans will complain.
School administrators will not. Not publically anyway.
Every Big 12 school is beholden to Texas. Last summer when the conference was on the verge of fracture, everyone hitched their wagons to the Longhorns, and Texas carried them through.
It not only kept the league together but also ushered in an era of unprecedented revenue.
Yes, Texas is making more than everyone else, but everyone else is making more than they did before. That's because of the Big 12's TV deal, so whatever the networks decide, the schools are going to live with it.