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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, May 14, 2012

SNY expected to offer live streaming of UConn games

As luck would have it, I was on vacation last week when UConn announced that SNY won the rights to be the regional broadcasting partner of UConn women's basketball games.

Now that I am back to work, I reached out to SNY and spoke with SNY President Steve Raab for about a half hour this morning on a variety of issues. Since most of the feedback I have received from readers concerned the possibility of a live streaming option for people who do not get SNY, that was one of the subjects I brought up.

"We fully expect to offer a live streaming package across the country," Raab said. "I think one of the things for us, we are in a joint venture with MLB Advance Media which is also and there I would argue that there is nobody in this world that has more live games streaming experience than MLB Advanced Media. They do thousands of Major League Baseball games but also March Madness, all the games, the Glenn Beck Show. They bring a level of technology, a level of opportunity that I think (what) SNY streaming offering will bring that is second to none."

Another issue is whether there would be any scheduling conflicts with men's college basketball games which could lead to SNY tape delaying any of the UConn women's basketball games which obviously would not be well received in this state.

"What we are obligated to do and will do is proactively, the scheduling doesn't get done days in advance, it gets done months in advance," Raab said. "The Big East, UConn, SNY we all know what those men's schedules (look like) and what the UConn women's schedules. I am not going to say that is is easy to schedule around but when we sit down and do the scheduling we can avoid those conflicts up front so the answer is that is allows us to not run into the conflicts and make those decisions. The commitment is to air
women's games made available to us. That is our goal."

Obviously there was plenty of reaction from the CPTV side of things. It's easy to understand their frustration seeing their partnership end after 18 ground-breaking years of televising UConn women's basketball.

I found some of the comments made by Jerry Franklin, president and CEO of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, to be a little over the top. When Franklin spoke with the Register's Joe Amarante last week, his response to a Geno Auriemma statement about the positive recruiting impact coming from the partnership with CPTV was an absolute joke.

"I didn't know that Geno needed help recruiting. I thought he was doing a pretty good job."

Now I am sure the comment was made somewhat in a tongue in cheek fashion but next time Franklin ought to think a little more before he speaks. Of course Auriemma has a right to be excited about going from a viewership of about 1 million to one that Raab said is in the 14 million range. Last time I checked UConn is expected to act in their own best interests and if SNY comes through with the live streaming and cover every game not contracted to other media outlets, this is an incredibly positive move by UConn. Growing up in New Hampshire, I remember when WSBK-38 was the home for Boston Bruins broadcasts. Now the Bruins games are on NESN and I couldn't imagine a better situation for me as a Bruins fan even though I absolutely loved the Channel 38's coverage during my years growing up.

Raab said that he was not overly concerned about the rumors circulating during the process. In recent weeks there was some whispers that the parent company of Fox 61 was making a serious push to secure the rights.

"We never really knew honestly until we got a phone call that we had been selected as the partner," Raab said. "We still don't know if it came down to two of us or the merits of all three were being debated. Right up until the end we always sensed that is was reasonably close but we also believed we were in the best position to deliver the best for the program and the fans.

"We knew when the contract was coming up. I wouldn't say that we were openly focused on it the last few years because we were really excited about football and men's basketball and the effort it took to jump in and wrap our arms around not just the games, the pregames, the postgames, even the spring football game. There is so much programming that we wanted to add on the men's side and understood the full gravity of the University of Connecticut in the state of Connecticut.

"Really as it evolved, the timing came out later than we thought it would but once the opportunity was there and once we had digested football and men's basketball but really felt like we brought something new to the party, it became a natural decision for us to 'let's go for it and see if we can bring UConn athletics to another

The process took a little longer than anybody expected but SNY was still hopeful its bid would prevail.

"There were some anxious moments," Raab said. "This is what we do 24/7, 365 all we are focused on is sports and our footprint, sports that matter in New York, Connecticu, New Jersey, Northeast Pennsylvania, we produce and air thousands of hours of live games. It is what we do. It is not the first time we have been through it.SNY has been around six plus years, the managers of this company we have all been in this business for 20 plus years. We ar so used to it. . Whatever rumors were going on, it didn't change
our story that we were going to  be able to increase the opportunity from a million homes to 14 million homes; it didn't change our position that we were going to bring 350 hours of dedicated programming to this women's program which is probably six or seven times that had been out there, It didn't change the live game production expertise that we bring and it didn't chance that we really believed that we were going to bring the best TV package for a women's college basketball team in this country. That includes Stanford, that includes Notre Dame, that includes all these schools that have brought some parity to women's college basketball but there is no doubt which program still stands at the top. We believe we are bringing the best package in the country to a women's college basketball program."

Raab said there is probably a couple of months before the announcing team is named and that process has already started with executive producer Curt Gowdy Jr. the point man in that process. You can read more about the subject in a story I filed for tomorrow's edition of the Register.

Former UConn guard Lorin Dixon was waived by the Tulsa Shock on Monday.

Dixon appeared in two exhibition games with the Shock and in her last outing she had two points and one assist in three minutes in Friday's 86-60 win over Seattle.


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