OU football fans unhappy about paying $39.95 to watch the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 31 should know they are helping subsidize Sooners Sports TV, one of the nation's most prolific college sports networks, with more than 2,000 hours of programming in its first year.
Under the new Big 12 television contract that went into effect last year, conference schools retain rights to one home football game. As part of its Sooners Sports TV partnership, OU has given its TV rights for that game to Fox Sports, which had the option of showing the game for free on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
“Putting this one game on pay-per-view allows us to make all of the other content we distribute on Sooner Sports TV possible,” said Fox Sports Oklahoma spokesman Ramon Alvarez.
New York-based consultant Lee Berke, who helped develop Sooner Sports TV, called the football game “the entree” for the whole package.
“This helps in terms of providing the business model to offer up hundreds and literally over a thousand hours on basic cable,” Berke said. “It helps provide a runway to a whole year's worth of Sooner Sports Television across a whole range of Fox networks.”
The Louisiana-Monroe game was by far the least attractive game on the OU home schedule, which also includes West Virginia, Tulsa, TCU, Texas Tech and Iowa State. ABC/ESPN, with its limit of six appearances per Big 12 school, certainly wasn't going to pick it up.
OU fans outside of Oklahoma can watch the game on SoonerSports.TV, OU's premium digital website, for $44.95 on their computer, mobile device or tablet. The purchase will include three months of SoonerSports.tv and SoonersIllustrated.com.
In the Bob Stoops era, pay-per-view has been a stable of television coverage, with 13 games in 14 seasons, and the Sooners have gone 13-0, winning by an average margin of 55-7. However, this will only be the fourth season opener on pay-per-view, with the last being in 2010, when OU held off Utah State, 31-24.
Pay-per-view is only financially viable for college programs that consistently fill their stadiums. In recent years, Fox Sports Southwest also has produced pay-per-view telecasts for Texas A&M and Texas, until it launched the Longhorn Network. OSU, which has yet to sell out the expanded Boone Pickens Stadium, has had only two pay-per-view games since 2000.
Fans who balk at paying the $39.95 can watch the game on tape delay on Labor Day. Fox Sports Oklahoma will air it in its entirety at 9 a.m. on “OU Review” and a one-hour condensed version at 7 p.m. on “Big 12 No-Huddle.” Fox Sports Oklahoma will replay every OU football game this season, Alvarez said.
Ron Thulin, Dave Lapham and sideline reporter Chad McKee will call the game.
OU home pay-per-view games
OU pay-per-view home football games in the Bob Stoops era. All games produced by Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Oklahoma.
Sept. 8, 2012: OU 69, Florida A&M 3
Oct. 1 2011: OU 62, Ball State 6
Sept. 4, 2010: OU 31, Utah State 24
Sept. 12, 2009: OU 64, Idaho State 0
Aug. 30, 2008: OU 57, Chattanooga 2
Sept. 15, 2007: OU 54, Utah State 3
Sept. 23, 2006: OU 59, Middle Tennessee State 0
Sept. 13, 2003: OU 52, Fresno State 28
Sept. 14, 2002: OU 68, UTEP 0
Nov. 3, 2001: OU 58, Tulsa 0
Sept. 8, 2001: OU 37, North Texas 10
Sept. 9, 2000: OU 45, Arkansas State 7
Sept. 2, 2000: OU 55, UTEP 14