Thursday, August 23, 2018

New KU deal with ESPN+ means Jayhawk TV Network will be available nationwide without blackouts

Games still will air on local TV, too

Kansas guard LaGerald Vick runs out to the court as the team is introduced during Late Night in the Phog on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard LaGerald Vick runs out to the court as the team is introduced during Late Night in the Phog on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Frustrations from KU fans unable to see the six men’s basketball games broadcast only by Jayhawk TV during recent years are now a thing of the past.

Thanks to a new agreement between KU and its media partners, which includes an expanded lineup of Spectrum Sports, Cox Cable, KMCI, MidCo Sports Network and ESPN, the blackout associated with those six early season, men’s basketball games has been eliminated.

Jayhawk fans across the country, including in Kansas, now will be able to see every KU basketball game either through one of the cable providers listed above or via ESPN’s new direct-to-consumer streaming platform known as ESPN+.

“We are thrilled to have an inclusive and expanded media coverage solution for our KU alumni and fans,” said new KU athletic director Jeff Long in a press release. “A special note of thanks to Spectrum Sports for not only elevating our coverage over the last four years, but for helping us get to this point with an internal production solution. With our over-the-air and cable partners, paired with our ESPN+ agreement, we are pleased that more Jayhawks than ever will be able to follow us.”

KU administrator Jim Marchiony, who has been with the athletic department for years and, therefore, been privy to complaints from disgruntled fans in Kansas who were unable to see the early season basketball games, said Thursday’s announcement was a direct result of listening to the frustrations of its fan base.

“We have been attempting to structure it this way for a few years now,” Marchiony said.

Very little about the specifics of the content will change, outside of who can access it and how.

Through its in-house video production arm known as Rock Chalk Video, Kansas Athletics, during the 2018-19 school year, will show roughly 100 live KU sporting events — up 20 or so from the old deal — and continue to offer additional hours of original programming via a 30-minute pregame show and 60-minute postgame show for every home and away KU football and men’s basketball game, along with replays of select KU coaches’ weekly Hawk Talk segments.

That, too, will now be available to a new set of eyes.

“This will be the first time that anybody outside of the state of Kansas will be able to access the pre(game) and postgame shows,” said Todd Kober, KU’s associate AD for external branding.

As for folks in Kansas who have DirecTV or Dish Network as their television provider, Kober said anyone with those satellite services who is within range of KMCI would be able to pick up the six early season men’s basketball games over the airwaves.

Those not in range now will have the option of accessing the games through ESPN+, which requires an Internet connection and carries a monthly subscription fee of $4.99 per month. But, according to KU administrators, it's a significant upgrade over the ESPN3 system that previously blacked out those games for Kansas residents.

Marchiony said the expanded service would not be “a drain on our budget,” and added that any additional revenue coming KU’s way likely would be offset by the added production costs experienced by Rock Chalk Video.

Marchiony also said the financial elements of the new deal were minimal since ESPN would absorb a large portion of the production costs given the fact that so many of KU’s 100 or so live events would be available via ESPN+.


Len Shaffer 4 years, 3 months ago

Does that mean that ESPN+ is a REPLACEMENT for ESPN3 or will be in ADDITION to ESPN3? Just wondering for those of us outside the state.

Benny Armstrong 4 years, 3 months ago

This is in addition to ESPN3 and is a $4.99/month online "channel/service" from ESPN that isn't part of any cable package. It includes all out of market MLS games and a lot of smaller sports events, and ESPN original content like the 30 for 30s (including some that are limited to ESPN+). I bought it mainly for soccer, but watched the KU volleyball preseason match on Saturday which was a nice perk. Worth it if you watch a lot of sports and especially if you like soccer, but probably not the solution people were looking for/hoping for.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 3 months ago

Sheahon Zenger alienated so many Kansas fans by making it harder to watch KU's non-conference games. Jeff Long just scored big with the fans by making the games more readily available.

But no, Mr. Marchiony, you crooked holdover from the Perkins regime, I don't believe for a minute you've been trying to make this happen "for years".

Andy Godwin 4 years, 3 months ago

I would be surprised if this deal was drawn up in the couple of weeks that Mr. Long has been on the job. Normally it takes years to work these kinds of deals out. I think Mr. Long might be the recipient of efforts from others within the athletic group.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 4 years, 3 months ago

Jeff Long, you have my seal of approval now. Not being able to watch any games killed my friends and I for so long until we found some streaming. And yeah Marchiony, I seriously doubt you cared at all. Did anyone wonder if recruits could afford to watch games?

Joe Black 4 years, 3 months ago

See Andy Godwin's comments above. This deal was not put together in the last few weeks that Jeff Long has been in charge. He just got the privilege of announcing it. I'm not a Zenger fan but he probably was much more instrumental in this than Long. I am pleased with what I have seen so far from Long on other issues. I think he will do a good job for KU.

Phil Leister 4 years, 3 months ago

So for those of us who live outside the state, and have been able to watch all the games on ESPN3, does this mean that's no longer available and we have to purchase ESPN+ to see the games?

Jason Venable 4 years, 3 months ago

If people took time to look this up (took me all but 10 secs) then you would find the answer to your question.

"The new ESPN App launches today (April 12, 2018) with a completely re-imagined experience that includes the seamless integration of ESPN+, the first-ever multi-sport, direct-to-consumer premium subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International group, in partnership with ESPN. The innovative new app elevates the digital sports experience and becomes the premier, all-in-one digital sports platform for fans, giving them easy access to all of ESPN’s news, scores, analysis, video and audio content. With enhanced design and mobility in mind, the new ESPN app and ESPN+ are available across mobile and connected living room devices—with an optimized experience for each platform."

John Strayer 4 years, 3 months ago

None of this "gobbly goop" states affirmatively that nothing changes for those of us outside of Kansas still being able to watch on ESPN3...which I get for free with my cable subscription with a preferred provider.

This is the problem with all of these streaming options...there are too many options...and you need several "apps" to watch everything you want...and spend hours tracing down programing. This is an improvement over cable service, with one programing guide?

David Lara 4 years, 3 months ago

Venable, why don't you take another 10 seconds to actually read the question that was asked. The question was NOT

"What is this ESPN+ thingy?"

It was asking if all access will still be available on ESPN3 as it has been in the past. For those who have been able to watch KU online via ESPN3 it would be a loss if we had to now pay to subscribe to ESPN+ in order to get the same access that we got with our regular cable subscription.

Jay Hawkinson 4 years, 3 months ago

As of now the KU schedule on has the Nicholls St game listed as available on ESPN3. It could just be out of date, but hopefully it means the Jayhawk Network games are still free for out of state people.

The KU-Central Michigan game is on ESPN+, but that is not a Jayhawk Network game. It looks maybe some of our football games that would've been on Fox Sports Midwest in the past will now be on ESPN+.

Eric TheCapn 4 years, 3 months ago

By "free" you mean, "with a paid cable subscription that includes ESPN," yes?

Phil Leister 4 years, 3 months ago

Despite the comments on here, it's still not entirely clear. However I think I understand.

For those of us out of state who have a cable subscription, we've been able to watch these six games on ESPN3 at no extra charge. Now these particular games have migrated away from ESPN3 to ESPN+, which requires an additional subscription (on top of my regular cable bill) of $5/month to have access to these. This only applies to the six games broadcast by Jayhawk TV. The remainder of KU's games that normally air on ESPN or ESPN2 will be available on those channels and online at ESPN3/Watch ESPN without needing the additional ESPN+ subscription.

So I guess this is a win for the in-staters. For everyone else, we have to pay an additional $5/month to get access to the games we used to be able to watch as part of our regular cable bill.


John Strayer 4 years, 3 months ago

Correct as far as I can tell...after going into the ESPN app and selecting my cable provider...when I selected the replay of the Kansas Volleyball match on ESPN+...I was greeted with a pop up screen selling me to watch these ESPN+ games you'll need to pony up $5 a month to ESPN's Treasury...apparently they aren't making enough money through my cable bill by buying the extra ESPN channels...I now have to pay an additional $5 a month to watch the streaming stuff which in the past was included with my cable/satellite bill...

Doug Longstaff 4 years, 3 months ago

Well, it's partially ESPN getting the money. Some of it will go back to KU, since they're producing the programming in house now and not through the old Metro Sports (or whatever it's name is now) agreement.

Overall, it's better for locals. I'm in the Cox area, and they carried the Jayhawk network, but it was never worth going to the poorer service and higher prices for Cox, as opposed to satellite. Now, $4.99 for a couple months (maybe 3) doesn't seem like a horrible price to pay to get the extra games. I would have spent a lot more than that going to a bar to watch.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 3 months ago

ESPN already has 5 TV channels, ESPN Watch and ESPN3 on the Internet. But things have been so bad for the former giant that they removed the comment section on the

I'm betting that more and more prime coverage events will only be shown on ESPN+. I'm already getting the tier 1 sports package from Comcast and now I need to pay extra for programming that used to be free.

Steve Corder 4 years, 3 months ago

I think so. I live in Texas and only get Fox sports SW on my cable sub.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 3 months ago

When basketball season starts, I will subscribe to Sling again and get those channels. And for those six games, it's worth it to me to pony up a little extra.

Eric TheCapn 4 years, 3 months ago

Also a big win for people who don't have cable TV subscriptions.

Don Perry 4 years, 3 months ago

I live in Indiana, have DirecTV as my provider and watched these lower level games on the ESPN+ channels in the 700s. I do have the Sports Package where I get all the Fox regionals, etc. Not certain if that makes a difference. The video was always a little grainy, but at least I was able to watch without going on ESPN3.

Kent Kossoy 4 years, 3 months ago

So apparently for the "local" people, they will get the broadcast for free and no black out. For us "foreigners," what we used to get for free, we will now have to fork over $4.99/month to subsidize the locals. How is that a good thing? No I don't think this team is worth $4.99/month. I guess get back to me when they start a winning program. Hopefully this will not be as bad for basketball.

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