OU hopes to launch TV network in 2011

By MIKE PIELLUCCI
FOXSportsSouthwest.com
Jan. 20, 2011

Proud as ever, Oklahoma isn’t going to let rival Texas out-do it in anything.

So when Texas announced Wednesday that it was forming its own 24-hour sports network, it was only a matter of time before the Sooners struck back.

As it turned out, it took all of one day. As first reported by TulsaWorld.com, Oklahoma has plans to create a TV channel of its own, with plans of launching it sometime this year.

“That’s our goal,” OU senior associate athletic director Kenny Mossman said in a phone interview with Tulsa World. “I wish I could tell you exactly when. But we’ve worked on it long enough and have enough of an idea of what our model will resemble that we feel confident we’ll be launching something in the not-too-distant future.”

It’s unclear whether the channel would be run independently or through another network, but Mossman said the university has worked “to do this at least somewhat independently if we have to. If we don’t, then we’ll align with an organization or network that would allow us to go about it a different way.”

It will be interesting to see just how many dominos fall following Texas’ announcement of its own network. One of the long-term concerns surrounding the future of the Big 12 was that it was a conference of haves and have-nots, and UT’s widely anticipated launch of a separate sports network will only reinforce that notion.

OU’s pursuit of the same goal shows the Big 12 doesn’t revolve exclusively around the Longhorns, although the Sooners’ clout and marketability were hardly in doubt.

Whether this model spreads is another source of intrigue. With the formation and success of the Big Ten Network in 2007, the conference network was seen as the wave of the future. But it’s not hard to imagine other power schools such as Alabama, Florida and USC forgoing a revenue-sharing agreement in favor of branching out on their own and hoarding all the profits.

Just as the Red River Rivalry often comes with conference-deciding implications, so, too, could it be the first pair of test cases on an issue that could affect conferences’ profitability and viability for years to come.