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The Longhorn Network Isn’t Going Away

Amidst the turmoil surrounding the Big 12 Conference over the past year, discussions about the University of Texas’ Longhorn Network (LHN) had gone quiet.

Over the spring, it seemed that even the number of promos aired on ESPN channels for LHN coverage of UT baseball and softball had decreased.

Well, an article in today’s Houston Chronicle shows that UT is as committed as ever to the ESPN-produced product.

UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds said Friday the Longhorns expect to have at least two and possibly three football games broadcast on the Longhorn Network this fall. A third game would be an increase from last year, when his office received widespread complaints about fans’ inability to watch two games on LHN.

Three football games on LHN? So, much for the one “third-tier rights” game per year on a school’s owned/branded network in the Big 12 Conference.  Actually, UT and ESPN will probably keep their one Big 12 Conference game per year on LHN and then twist the arms of some of UT’s non-conference opponents and FOX to let the other two games ‘fall’ to their third-tiered LHN.

If ESPN isn’t able to get more cable and satellite providers to pick up LHN, I could see them trying to up the ante even more get a fourth football  game on LHN in 2013.

Right now, with the way the Big 12 Conference schedule is structured, realistically the maximum amount of games LHN could air without massive changes to the Big 12 Conference television contract is 4 per season.  One Big 12 Conference game and three UT non-conference home games.

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