Longhorn Network Limited To Cablevision West

There’s a Longhorn Network promo with a University of Texas fan working late in New York, but desperately missing life back in Austin. So much so, he opts to block his trophy view of the Empire State Building with a framed photo of the UT campus tower.

Tagline: “Watch What You Love.”

With an announcement last week, it appeared that Cablevision would be giving UT diehards in the New York market that chance. Texas Exes (UT alumni) wouldn’t have to miss any more football games.

ESPN would also benefit from the Longhorn Network (LHN) becoming availabile in Cablevision’s mass amount of Northeast homes. 

No luck for either.

A Cablevision-Disney deal includes carriage of LHN. But the ESPN-owned channel – devoted to UT 24/7 -- will only be available a long way from New York.

Cablevision said it plans to make LHN accessible in a small portion of its footprint in the West early next year via a $5.95-a-month sports tier. Cablevision serves some 300,000 homes in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

In New York, some homes can get LHN with a top-tier Verizon package. But as ESPN looks to grow the network's reach, gaining access to about 3 million Greater New York homes (even on a pricey sports tier) would have given it momentum. A recent AT&T deal pushed its distribution to some 5 million homes.

ESPN is doing what it can to nudge operators along. In addition to exclusively carrying UT’s first two football games this fall, it has added the Iowa State game Nov. 10. (Six ABC affiliates in and around Iowa will also offer it.)

The Iowa State game is a Big 12 match-up, meaning both schools have to agree to put it on LHN and the conference has to sign-off. The prospect of putting Big 12 games on LHN had not exactly thrilled the other schools in the Big 12.

Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand tweeted that LHN being included in the Cablevision deal – which includes loads of properties far more important to Disney – reaffirms ESPN’s commitment to the network.

ESPN sure has a lot of money committed – well over $700 million, according to its contract with the University of Texas and IMG. There was the approximately $13 million to build a studio. Going forward through 2031, ESPN estimates an annual operating budget of $26 million, while it will owe UT at least $11 million a year.

For now, if it is receiving even an average of 50 cents a subscriber a month for 5 million subscribers, it would be losing money.

Of course, Texas coach Mack Brown began his head coaching career at Tulane in 1985 going 1-10. Twenty years later, he was a national champion at Texas.

Now, he’s so popular LHN offers “Game Plan with Mack Brown,” “Rewind with Mack Brown” and “Longhorn Weekly with Mack Brown.” How can a UT fan miss even one?

(The story has been revised to reflect Mack Brown starting at Tulane in 1985 and then winning a national title during the 2005 season.)

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