Does the Longhorn Network want to broadcast a game that doesn't involve the University of Texas?
According to a report from RedRaiderSports.com, the LHN is interested in broadcasting the Sept. 8 game between Texas Tech and Texas State. And Texas Tech isn't happy.
Tech learned of this possibility several days ago, and according to the source, is "adamantly opposed to playing on the Longhorn Network" and is "putting serious consideration into canceling the game and playing an 11 game schedule" this fall.
"We are extremely disappointed," the source told RRS. "Our hope is that the Texas State game will be played on a primary ESPN platform."
The game is a home game for Texas State, which is in the WAC, so that conference controls the TV rights for the game. While Tech may hope that a primary ESPN platform broadcasts the game, that may be fruitless optimism. (The Longhorn Network is operated by ESPN.) Tech is picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big XII and 2012 is Texas State's first year in the FBS. Simply put, it's a game with regional appeal that will likely be a blowout -- a perfect game for the Longhorn Network, a state of Texas-centric channel.
But of course, it's really not. The Longhorn Network and its potential revenue has been a factor in the instability surrounding the Big 12, a conference that doesn't have or have plans for its own network.The only people who are happy about the Longhorn Network's existence are those directly involved with the project and the lucky few that receive it. Verizon FiOS and Grande Communications are the only two big Texas cable providers that have reached agreements to broadcast the channel. And while ESPN and UT are only through a fraction of their 20-year deal, that's still a pretty small distribution area.
So you can see why Texas Tech would be perturbed enough to even consider the thought of cancellation if it was a possibility that one of its football games would be broadcast on its rival's network that very few would be able to watch. But you can see why Texas State and the WAC would consider broadcasting the game on the Longhorn Network if it was financially feasible. You can also see why the Longhorn Network would want a game between two other Texas schools -- it'd be a fairly sizable chip to play in any distribution discussions. And it may be a sign that the Longhorn Network depends more on other Texas schools than anyone would have originally guessed.