The phone messages and emails are finding Kansas associate athletics director Jim Marchiony’s inbox, as he knew they would as basketball season approached.
It arrives Tuesday with KU’s exhibition opener against Pittsburg State, the first of six games on the new Jayhawk Television Network.
Those games won’t be on everybody’s screen because of the university’s agreement with Time Warner Cable, so Marchiony is prepared to answer all questions, as he did to this emailer who cannot watch the game on his cable provider.
“Sorry if this is a bit long-winded, but we want to fully explain the rationale. For most Kansas Athletics programs, all of this represents important, unprecedented statewide and national coverage.”
Time Warner Cable, Comcast and WOW! in the Kansas City and Lawrence areas are the exclusive cable carriers of two KU football and six basketball games this season: Exhibitions against Pittsburg and Fort Hays State and regular-season games against Louiaiana-Monroe, Iona, Towson and Toledo. Cox, a dominant cable provider in Kansas, also will carry the programming, along with other, smaller providers.A full listing of affiliates is available on KU’s athletic website
The games also will be shown on ESPN3, a digital streaming service, and ESPN’s GamePlan package for cable and satellite. But basketball and football games on the Jayhawk Network will be blacked out on ESPN3 and GamePlan for users in Kansas or the Kansas City metro area.
Also as part of the deal, Time Warner Cable and other affiliates will show more KU sporting events other than football and basketball, plus original programming, some 50 events that have been scheduled and another 20 the school is working to establish.
Reaction to the network has ramped up because of the anticipation of a successful basketball season and the number of games involved. The Jayhawks’ football opener against South Dakota was on the new network, and so will Saturday’s road football game at Texas, which also will air on Texas’ Longhorn Network.
But neither those games nor the six basketball games will be available on Dish Network, DirecTV or cable providers in the Kansas City area other than Time Warner or Comcast.
“It’s not over the air, and that’s something we did not take lightly,” Marchiony said. “There were people who weren’t going to like it.”
Another change: When Kansas made the deal, the Jayhawk Network programming was going to air in the Kansas City area on Metro Sports, the regional all-sports cable network that debuted in 1996. The channel still exists, with the same on-air personalities, but it’s no longer called Metro Sports.
Officially, the station is the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, and that name brings it in line with Time Warner sports channels throughout the nation. Time Warner is available in 11 states and in such markets as Los Angeles and Dallas.
“We were trying to create a brand that’s consistent,” said Mike Pedelty, director of communications for Time Warner Cable in Kansas City. “One thing that didn’t change is the focus on Kansas City. The station will always keep an eye on local sports, there will still be a major commitment to high school sports, and we just signed an amazing deal with Kansas.”
One that Marchiony continues to explain to inquisitors.
“This agreement alters the local broadcasting arrangement of a small minority of KU games,” he wrote to the emailer who couldn’t watch the games. “When we took into consideration all the positives we thought this was the best move.”