LHN: a Doomed Network
I think the lauded Longhorn Network is doomed for failure. Outside the state of Texas, it will be virtually nonexistent. Within the state, only a few Longhorn fans will buy it if even given a choice.
At the moment not all cable carriers in Texas are sold on it. Time Warner, Comcast, Dish, and DirecTV have not reached an agreement to carry it. ESPN you know will only want to keep sinking money into it if it gets major exposure on these big carriers. It might work out later but DirecTV has said they have no plans at all to carry it. It seems there is not as much interest, at least right now, for this network venture. The people who have to take a risk to purchase it know the dangers and are skittish about diving into it.
Further more, there are many demands placed upon the school and the staff. For instance, Mack Brown has to film three shows a week for it. How many other college coaches do you know that want to make their valuable time available for three show a week? Once Mack is gone, I think if this demand is kept, UT will have a hard time hiring a quality coach. If they change it to one show a week, then the viewer will feel that the content is being watered down. The Longhorn Network is against the wall on this.
ESPN’s partnership with Texas is creating a major conflict of interest. On one hand, they are supposed to be a non-biased sports media outlet but on the other hand, they have money interest in the success of the LHN and UT sports in general. This is going to undermine the integrity of ESPN, especially when conference realignment comes up and there are negotiations that have to take place with outlets like Fox Sports. When the money fails to roll in to ESPN for a couple years in a row, they will realize the pain ain’t worth it.
The original agreement was for any team in the Big 12 to air one game a year on their own network. Now, Texas is going to air the Kansas State game making it two for this year. They paid off KSU to agree to the game on the LHN and behold, the conference is going to have fewer games to watch as a whole as only LHN subscribers, the few there are, get to watch this game. This will be a major point of contention and will not last very long. LHN had hoped to broadcast high school games and highlights which is a major sticking point with other schools, for good reason. The ESPN partnership with the technology and cash to carry this idea out is very scary. ESPN will not be pleased when they are forced to back off in the future with the feelings toward the way they manipulated the game by Texas bringing in ESPN and a boatload of money to waste on their hungry egos.
Finally, with conference realignment, Texas will be forced to either join a less desirable conference or give up the LHN as it is currently structured. The only other way I see is to go independent but that would be a big money loser for them although they could survive. If they go to the ACC, I don’t know what will happen but I don’t see the channel lasting the way it currently exists. If they go to the Pac, they will have to rename it the Lone Star Network (or something of the sorts) and split time with Texas Tech and give up half their control. In addition, the network will have to conform to the conference rules that are already governing the league’s other regional networks and Texas can’t let go of that.
This reminds me of the monkey who saw something sparkly in a tree. He reached into the knothole and grabbed the jewel. He could not get his hand out with the jewel in it but he refused to let the jewel go. A hunter came along and killed the monkey who could not defend himself of run away. The monkey is Texas and the Jewel is the Longhorn Network and Texas would rather go down with a sinking conference they doomed than let go of the jewel.
With cable and satellite companies unimpressed, the burden on the head football coach, the conflict of interest, and conference realignment, the LHN is nearly stillborn.
OU Peed in Texas’ Wheaties
No matter what, the LHN is doomed in its current guise, but not before it destroys a conference. I think Texas is really not liking the fact they are no longer holding the cards in the Big 12 with OU seriously talking about leaving now. Texas might end up in the Pac but they don’t want it to look like they are following OU. That would hurt their massive egos too badly. They will look around then say they made the decision that was best for Texas and ignore the fact that OU drove them that direction and screwed up their little game with ESPN. Yep, OU peed in Texas’ Wheaties–Texas just keeps eating as if it tastes grrrreaaaat.