The University of Oklahoma has gone the way of its Big 12 archrival Texas and launched its own sports network, but unlike their hated rivals from south of the Red River, the Sooners have forged a multi-year deal with FOX to use the national cable operator's existing distribution network instead of creating their own stand-alone 24/7 sports channel.
The new network, featuring Oklahoma Sooners' sports programming, is called "Sooner Sports TV." University of Oklahoma officials and representatives of FOX Sports have announced a 10-year agreement that calls for the showing of blocks of OU sports [programming totaling at least 1,000 hours annually over various existing FOX Sports outlets, including FOX Sports nationally, Oklahoma/FOX Sports Southwest, FOX College Sports and FOX Sports Plus.
The new Sooner Sports TV will not be a 24-hour solely-dedicated channel like what is in place with the $300-million Longhorn Network, which is owned and operated by ESPN and has been in operation 13 months. Instead, OU's agreement with FOX Sports allows for live broadcasts of Sooner men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball and so-called Olympic sports, such as women's volleyball, wrestling and track-and-field events. In addition, Sooner Sports TV will carry pre- and post-game shows during football season, coach Bob Stoops' weekly football show and the annual spring football game.
The new OU sports TV initiative, which launched Sept. 1 prior to the Oklahoma-University of Texas-El Paso football season opener, will also include an online, all-access component featuring untelevised content, such as live streaming and archived football games. The deal with FOX does not include, however, Oklahoma football games, a number of which already are broadcast on FOX and ESPN under the current Big 12 television contract with the two cable networks.
"We (had) 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," OU athletic director Joe Castiglione told reporters in announcing the agreement with FOX. "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 platforms around the country.
OU sports programming is now available to nine million homes in the Oklahoma, Texas-Arkansas-Louisiana region, Castiglione said. In revealing further advantages on the new TV deal, he said: "This is at least 10 times the amount of programming OU has been able to offer previously to our fans.
"We really are talking about doing the best we can getting to people right now," Castiglione said, "but also with an eye on our vision for the future."
Financial details of OU's new TV sports package with FOX were not disclosed.
For more news and information and the latest developments and special features on Oklahoma Sooners' sports, be sure to visit the OU athletics department website.