Oklahoma, Fox Sports launch sports TV venture

Associated Press Modified: September 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm •  Published: September 12, 2012

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma launched its response to rival Texas' $300 million Longhorn Network on Wednesday, announcing a 10-year partnership with Fox Sports to air games live along with original content in a Sooner Sports TV programming package.

Instead of a round-the-clock dedicated channel similar to the Longhorn Network, Oklahoma will broadcast occasional blocks of programming on Fox's regional sports networks and nationally on Fox College Sports.

The arrangement will allow for live game broadcasts of Oklahoma men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball and Olympic sports as well as pregame and postgame shows for football games, football coach Bob Stoops' weekly television show and coverage of the annual spring football game.

It does not include Oklahoma football games, some of which already air on Fox under the Big 12 television contract.

"We did have a chance to examine several different options, including a stand-alone, 24/7 type of channel but this really gives us the best of all possible worlds," athletic director Joe Castiglione said. "We have substantial OU branding and programming along with immediate and full distribution for fans throughout Oklahoma, Texas, our region and ... through a variety of Fox platforms around the country."

The Longhorn Network has had trouble finding a foothold with cable and satellite providers. Just before the season, a deal was reached with AT&T U-verse to air the network, which is run in partnership with ESPN.

Oklahoma decided instead to partner with Fox, which will air the Sooners' programs on channels people already get instead of negotiating with carriers to add another channel.

"Being able to launch and reach almost 9 million people with the opportunity to grow that base is exciting," Castiglione said. "We examined the amount of programming that we would have available to us. Getting at least 1,000 hours of programming in a multi-platform network really was exciting for us. This is at least 10 times the amount of programming OU has been able to offer up previously to our fans."

The agreement allows Fox to air at least 1,000 hours of sports programming each year. Much of the content will be available to about 9 million television homes in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana over Fox's regional sports networks.

Fox Sports Southwest vice president Jon Heidtke said there would be an "emphasis to looking at the fan base in Oklahoma" but some programs would air nationally on Fox College Sports, which is available in New York City and Los Angeles.

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