After the initial uproar over the Longhorn Network and the perceived advantages Texas would be getting as a result of their $15 million per year deal with ESPN, things have been relatively quiet of late on the Longhorn Network front.
Texas and ESPN continue to struggle with the distrubution of the network, however, and have yet to land a major cable or satellite producer.
Granted these things often take time, but one quick way to help speed along the process is by showing more of what people really want to see - Texas football.
How about three games on the Longhorn's own network in 2012? By the sounds of it, that's exactly what Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has in mind.
DeLoss Dodds says there could be as many as three Texas football games broadcast on the Longhorn Network this fall.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) May 11, 2012
LHN isn't going to get carriers without leverage. A third football game is the best leverage ESPN has. Softball ain't gonna do it.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) May 11, 2012
Dodds said he realizes there will be mass outrage if LHN doesn't have carriers in time for those 3 games. "But the pain is worth the gain."— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) May 11, 2012
There's little doubt that putting more football games on a channel few can view will cause some angst amongst the fan base who could then in turn put some pressure on cable and satellite providers to carry the network.
Is that enough though?
That's three games or roughly nine hours of programming spanning three Saturdays against likely the three weakest opponents on Texas' 2012 schedule. The other 362 days of the year, Texas will be in the same boat, showing the same programming that has yet to entice any outlet of substance to carry the network.
And that's not even considering the potential hurdles Texas might have to overcome to show three games. I won't proclaim to be an expert on all the details pertaining to the Big 12's television contracts, but I've followed it close enough to at least be dangerous.
It's no secret the Big 12 allows its member institutions to do what they wish with their third-tier media rights (hence why the Longhorn Network even exists). It's my understanding that as part of the Big 12's TV contracts, each school is allowed the rights to one football game per season to be broadcast however each school chooses, on whatever third-tier distribution medium they have chosen to use. After that, any additional games would need the approval of the rest of the league.
Texas did televise two games last year after getting the necessary approvals from the Big 12 and cutting a deal with Kansas that also allowed the Jayhawks to show the game over-the-air in Kansas City and throughout the state.
Would the rest of the league agree to allow three games on the LHN? Maybe, although I'm guessing Texas would be forced to give up something in return that in some way benefits the other nine members.
Plus Fox, the second-tier rights holder, would have to choose not select two of those three games as part of its television package to show on its regional networks. Would they do this? Again maybe, but they're not going to give up one of the biggest draws in the Big 12 for free.
So the bottom line if this goes down and Texas and ESPN are able to get three games on the LHN, you're either going to have a bunch of angry Texas fans or Texas and the World Wide Leader are going to get what they want, somebody of substance carrying their network.