MOORE — Oklahoma doesn’t have its own television network, but the deal it announced on Wednesday with FOX Sports comes pretty close.
OU and FOX Sports have agreed 10-year multimedia programming partnership featuring “Sooner Sports TV Powered by FOX Sports,” a multiplatform network that provides for immediate and wide distribution of at least 1,000 hours of OU sports programming annually on a variety of FOX Sports outlets, including FOX Sports Oklahoma, FOX Sports Southwest and FOX College Sports, according to announcement from OU and FOX Sports.
The financial terms of the agreement were not released, but a source close to the negotiations told the Transcript on Wednesday it will be worth close to $5 million per year to OU.
The programming will be distributed on FOX Sports Networks, reaching an estimated 9 million televisions in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Select programming from “Sooner Sports TV” will available nationally, either on FOX College Sports via cable providers or on outer market regional sports packages offered by satellite providers, , according to the joint announcement.
“Being able to launch to 9 million people with the opportunity to grow that base is exciting,” OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “We examined the amount of programming we would have available to us and getting at least 1,000 hours of programming in a multi-platform network was exciting to us.
“This was at least 10 times the amount programming OU has been able to offer previously to our fans. Partnering with one of the world’s leading media companies is exciting. The opportunity for us to engage in some creative programming that we can develop here on our campus in partnership with the variety of entities we have available, all of that was important. To do it in a way that made the most sense for our program going forward.”
The agreement includes an online component featuring extensive “all-access” content not televised on FOX Sports networks. Such material will include live streaming, archived games, and additional content exclusively for the web, according to the joint announcement.
Nearly all of the content will be produced by the SoonerVision production unit. SoonerVision currently employs a staff of 95. The SoonerVision facility, located at Owen Field, already houses two control rooms, allowing simultaneous distribution of content to the department’s five in-venue video boards and television. SoonerVision covered 65 events for television distribution last year.
“One of the things that really excited us about this relationship was when you looked and saw the infrastructure the University had invested in for their SoonerVision properties. It was state of the art, HD facility.” FOX Sports Southwest general manager Jon Heidtke said.
The Big 12 Conference television agreement that was signed last week with ABC/ESPN and FOX Sports gives the schools the rights to all programming that isn’t selected for network or cable broadcast. The agreement means each school will hold the rights to one football game per season.
“Our agreement has been carefully constructed to take advantage of the programming opportunities we have available to us,” Castiglione said. “The vast majority of the football programming is already part of the conference television agreement. Going forward, that will remain. We'll have a chance to get access to some of those games on a re-air basis. That is something great for our fans, too. In addition to our programming we typically produce, we’ll have a chance to re-air some of these games in their entirety much sooner than we’ve ever had the chance to do before.”
The content will also be accessible immediately. OU’s has been developing this for several years. It wanted to create something sustainable that avoided the issues Texas has faced with getting cable and satellite providers to carry the Longhorn Network.
The partnership with FOX Sports gets OU content on the air without the hassles of building a network from scratch.
“This really gives us the best of all possible worlds. We have substantial OU branding in programming, along with immediate and full distributions for fans in Oklahoma, Texas and the region and through a variety of FOX platforms around the country,” Castiglione said. “The exciting part is it also gives us a chance to grow along with our media partner. We really thought this approach would serve our fans the best way possible.”
Jefferson practices: Safety Tony Jefferson returned to practice on Monday after being held out last week due to an ankle injury he suffered against Florida A&M.
“Tony practiced the whole day and took every snap,” Stoops declared after practice. “No more questions about Tony, OK?”
Jefferson was not available to the media following Monday’s practice.
Walker on schedule: Defensive tackle Casey Walker remains on schedule to play against Kansas State. He returned to practice last week after missing two weeks for an undisclosed reason.
“He practiced. Did well,” Stoops said. “Looked like the same old guy out there working, so we’re excited to have him back and I expect him to play well.”
Playing Klein: OU freshman quarterback Trevor Knight is playing the role of Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein for the scout team this week.
The 6-foot-1, 197-pound Knight, who is redshirting this season, weighs about 30 pounds less than the Wildcats’ quarterback and is four inches shorter. However, the Sooners don’t need a physical match.
“We’re not going live in practice anyway,” Stoops said. “Trevor is perfectly capable of running in the same spaces as Collin Klein is gonna run in. We just have to make sure we’re there in those spaces with the discipline of our reads that we’re where we should be.
“Whether we tackle him or not doesn’t matter. We’re not tackling out there every day. If we did, I wouldn’t have anybody ready for Saturday.”
Intense off week: Oklahoma did some preparation for Kansas State last week, but offensive tackle Lane Johnson said going against the Sooners’ first-team defense on Tuesday and Wednesday raised the intensity a couple notches.
“Usually we’ll go against scouts during game week, but we went against our defense a few times. Tuesday and Wednesday. That was pretty intense for sure,” he said.
Little interest: Quarterback Landry Jones didn’t spend a lot of time watching football with has Saturday off.
“I watched a little bit of … golly, who was it? I can’t remember who I watched, but I fell asleep right in the middle of the game,” he said.
Jones later said the game that put him to sleep was top-ranked Alabama’s 52-0 rout of Arkansas.