My Take: Should Texas Tech Play the University of Texas on the Longhorn Network?
I give you my take on whether or not I feel Tech should play UT on the Longhorn Network and, in reward, they will air other Tech games like Nevada and New Mexico over the next four seasons for $5 million.
From a purely economic standpoint, I say go for it. $5 million would go a long way towards our new jumbotron, a new indoor practice facility or a new sound system at the Jones.
However, you can rarely look at things from a purely economic standpoint. From a public relations standpoint, this would be public perception suicide. The perception around the country wold be, Lowly Texas Tech can't get their own non-conference games on TV without the help of big brother Texas. Plus, it would be helping add content and increase the viewers of the Longhorn Network which is scrambling to find content to air on their channel. Add on that, it would force Texas Tech fans (who have been know to have ill will towards UT) subscribe to the Longhorn Network to watch their beloved Red Raiders play their biggest rival.
Look at it this way, $5 million over fours years averages out to $1.25 million a year. Not exactly chump change, but not enough to tarnish your name and public perception over. If this were some ungodly amount, I would reconsider it, however, it isn't.
From the argument that Tech should do anything they can to get all their games on TV, I say, you may be right, but the Longhorn Network is not the right medium to use. The Longhorn Network is struggling to find subscribers. Why should Tech play a game on the Longhorn Network when the number of viewers would be so minuscule that Tech would get more viewers streaming it for free online. It's not like a prime time national broadcast on ABC. It's Tech's biggest game of the year, subjugated to those who have already subscribed to the Longhorn Network. The Tech v. UT game has, in years past, been one of the highest watched games of the year. There is no reason for Tech to take their highest watched game of the year and force to be viewed by only a few thousand who have subscribed to this network and are already Longhorn fans and supporters. Can you imagine if this play was only on the Longhorn Network and not on a national prime time ABC broadcast?
Also, Coach Tuberville has made it clear he intends to have higher profile teams on the Red Raiders non-conference schedule. From there, we can assume FOX, CBS and ESPN would be much more interested in airing Tech non-conference games. I'm not going to debate the pros and cons of a tough non-conference schedule, but non-conference games are more likely to be broadcasted when the opponents are both from BCS conferences. Tech does not need to force itself into a 4 year contract for airing their weak non-conference games, when all indicators point towards Tech scheduling tougher opponents, thus, making their non-conference games more desirable.
The feelings around the Big 12 are already negative enough towards UT and the Big 12 is a heartbeat away from collapsing, regardless of what the Dan "The Longhorn Puppet" Beebe says. Tech does not need to pair itself up with UT when all indicators point towards UT wanting to go Independent and A&M going to the SEC.
Lastly, can you imagine the backlash from Texas Tech fans and alumni when they hear they are forced to pay ESPN and UT to watch their Red Raiders play multiple games over the next few seasons?
That, alone, should be enough to keep Tech from taking this deal.