The Sports Business Journal is reporting that Fox Sports Southwest and OU are close to reaching an agreement where the regional network will televise 1,000 hours of Sooner programming on its FS Southwest and FS Oklahoma regional sports networks.
It would be available on the basic sports tier in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and even the Lone Star State.
Fox Sports Southwest is currently in 8.6 million homes.
This deal does not give OU its own 24 hour channel.
However the programming will be branded something like "The Sooner Network," and it will include much of the third tier content that Texas has going to the Longhorn Network, i.e. at least one live football game, several men’s and women’s basketball games and Olympic sports.
The deal isn't worth anything close to the $300 million, 20-year pact that UT has with ESPN. It is more in line with what Texas thought would be available for third tier TV rights when they approached A&M several years ago to team up for such a deal -- which means somewhere between $1-$2 million a year.
The advantages for Oklahoma are obvious. There are no start up costs - no studios to build, no talent to hire, and no haggling with cable and satellite carriers about distribution of the programming.
As for ESPN's fight with the big carriers -- especially Time Warner Cable -- over the Longhorn Network, don't expect a breakthrough any time soon.
The OU programming should be part of Fox Sports Southwest by the fall, and along with the new Pac 12-Big 10 athletic alliance, it should help quell any more talk of conferences expansion.
Big 12, schools are free to make their own third-tier TV deals and profit from them without sharing the revenue with the conference, so this deal makes it easier for the Sooners to stay put.