UA to begin its own sports TV network

2009-07-14T00:00:00Z UA to begin its own sports TV networkBy Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 14, 2009 12:00 am  • 

Unable to reach a television agreement with their previous cable-satellite network, the Arizona Wildcats are creating one of their own.

The UA unveiled the Arizona Wildcats Sports Network on Monday, giving a new home to football and men's basketball games that had been aired on Fox Sports Arizona for more than 10 years.

The network will consist of KGUN (Channel 9) and KWBA (Channel 58) in Southern Arizona, in addition to KWBA's Spanish language affiliate, LATV, which is available only on cable.

Fans statewide can also watch the UA on KAZT-TV, which is available on Cox Channel 7.

The UA network will carry games not covered by the Pac-10's television agreement.

It will debut Sept. 5 when the Wildcats host Central Michigan, and could broadcast additional football games this season.

The basketball season will see another 13 to 15 games aired, said Brent Seebohm, the UA's associate athletic director and general manager/vice president of IMG College, the school's marketing arm.

The network will cost between $800,000 and $1.2 million per year for the UA to run for at least three years, Seebohm said. He said the UA would hire contract employees, not full-time employees.

IMG College will produce the games and sell all advertising.

The Wildcats network will offer live streaming video of self-produced games on its Web site, www.arizonawildcats.com.

An All-Access subscription, which includes a video player, runs $9.95 per month or $79.95 per year.

The Wildcats will be the only provider of that Internet content, a potential financial wellspring, considering out-of-state fans in years past had been able to see many of the Fox Sports Arizona games on satellite.

"The Internet part is huge," UA athletic director Jim Livengood said.

Seebohm said, in general, that UA sporting events will air live on KWBA, with replays on KGUN.

KWBA plans to air first-run editions of Mike Stoops and Sean Miller coaches' shows on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m., with KGUN repeating them an hour later, Seebohm said.

Seven magazine-style shows per year will highlight all Wildcat teams. Live sporting events other than men's basketball and football will be phased in "gradually" over the next few years, he said.

"It's one of the first of its kind," Seebohm said. "It's an extremely positive advancement for the Wildcats."

UA games will air on Fox Sports Arizona if they are part of the Pac-10's national package, or aired by the network's counterparts in California or the Northwest.

Games can also be seen on ABC, ESPN and other national outlets this season.

Fox Sports Arizona and the UA negotiated for months but could not reach a deal.

"The main reason was, the money we offered in rights fees wasn't the money they wanted in rights fees," said Mike Connelly, senior vice president and general manager of Fox Sports Arizona. "They felt they could monetize this themselves without the assistance."

Not producing games in Tucson "does hurt us," Connelly said. He would not say whether the offer was more or less than the UA's previous deal, but he said it was "in line with the other Pac-10 schools."

Seebohm said the sides "spent several rounds of discussions" about the deal.

"It came down to what was best for the Wildcats," he said.

Seebohm said the UA will make further announcements about the network next month, but that it had not "had any type of talent discussions or evaluations" about who would call the games.

Broadcaster Dave Sitton said Monday he had yet to speak with the university.

Livengood said he understands if fans might be confused about what games are aired on which channels — at least at first.

"But once we get all the information out and all the details out, it will become really clear for people to find," he said.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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