The news regarding a broadcasting deal between Kansas Athletics, IMG College and Time Warner Cable/MetroSports to create a revamped Jayhawk Network has produced quite a bit of confusion from fans throughout Jayhawk Nation.
As I've mentioned several times today, both on Twitter and in the comments section of our story, I understand those concerns and the confusion but also am limited in what I can say because KU and its partners have chosen to release the details of their TV agreement in two parts, one today and one sometime in the very near future, once details are finalized and contracts are signed.
In the meantime, let's try to clear up some of the confusion with a very basic and very brief comparison between what you, as viewers, had before and what you'll be getting under the new deal, as it stands today.
I say “as it stands today,” because I've had multiple off-the-record conversations with people at KU about this and I have a pretty clear understanding that when the final pieces of the puzzle are put in place, KU fans will be very excited about the future and how it pertains to KU expanding its brand and presence in homes across the country.
For now, though, let's get on with this exercise.
• Additional KU coverage, what's come to be known as “shoulder programming”
Now – None
With the new deal – 600 hours per year, available to all Time Warner customers, nationwide
• Games or events shown in Kansas on the Jayhawk Televsion Network:
Now – 1 football game and six men's basketball games per year
With the new deal – Those seven events plus 43 other events in sports including volleyball, women's basketball, soccer and track
• Men's hoops games shown in Kansas via other media outlets and/or cable providers
Now – All
With the new deal – All
--- It's important to remember that this deal is for KU's Tier 3 rights only and that many men's hoops games and football games are broadcast with KU and/or the Big 12's Tier 1 and Tier 2 partners. So, in short, games shown on ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, Fox, whatever, will still be shown on those channels just as they have been in the past. Nothing changes there. ---
--- Another thing worth remembering is this: The whole hub-bub here is over six men's basketball games slated for Jayhawk Network. In 2012-13, 27 of KU's 34 non-NCAA Tournament games were shown on national television, 19 on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU, 4 on CBS and 4 on the Big 12 Network. In 2011-12 28 of 33 games were on national TV and in 2010-11 25 of 33 were on national TV. So the point here is that nothing changes for the national audience. ---
One one the biggest questions I have heard today is regarding DirectTV and Dish Network subscribers. And there is some cause for concern there.
If those providers do not carry Time Warner and/or MetroSports programming then DirectTV and Dish Network subscribers will not be able to get the 50 extra events or 300 hours of additional programming.
Having said that, there is some precedent for complaints from customers changing that in a hurry. When the Los Angeles Lakers entered into a deal with Time Warner, similar to the one KU and TWC have reached today, many Lakers fans who were on DirectTV and Dish Network went to those providers and complained about not being able to get the Lakers coverage because the channel was not available in their current lineup.
Here's a link to an L.A. Times story about the end of the madness back in 2012: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/15/entertainment/la-et-ct-lakers-directv-20121115
Evidently, enough people complained to inspire DirectTV to approach Time Warner about rectifying the situation and, when they did, things were fixed quickly.
A non-KU affiliated source I talked to a little bit ago explained it to me like this: According to FCC regulations, if DirectTV or Dish Network approach Time Warner and say they've heard viewer complaints about not carrying the channel and tell Time Warner they would like to pick up what, in this case, would be MetroSports, Time Warner is required to provide the channel to DirectTV or Dish Network at a nominal fee. At that point, DirectTV and/or Dish Network would decide how they want to incorporate it into their lineup. They could make it a part of a sports tier or package, they could add it to the overall lineup and bump up subscription costs by a small amount or they could even include it on a pay-per-view basis. That part is up to them. But if they hear enough complaints and, more importantly, if they sense that enough customers may be considering switching over to Time Warner, they almost assuredly would request to add the channel to their lineup.
Again, there's a lot still to come out here and patience is at a premium right now. It's my belief that when all of the dust settles KU fans will feel very good about the total deal and be as excited as the folks inside KU currently are about what this means for the future of broadcast KU athletics both in Kansas and across the country.
As we so often said during the conference realignment mess, stay tuned...