K-State launches its own online network

15 Aug

Yes, the University of Texas recently announced its Longhorn Network, but that is not why Kansas State has just announced the launch of a network of its own. According to Athletics Director John Currie, this has been a long time coming. Though it might seem like a bandwagon move given the current climate of college athletics, Currie said the university wanted to stay true to the original timing of the announcement despite outside circumstances.

“We’ve really been talking about it for a year, and we really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity,” Currie said to media on Monday afternoon. “One of the critical steps that happened was the arrival of Vice President Jeff Morris to campus as our Vice President for Communications and Marketing. He really latched onto what we were trying to accomplish. We’d been planning to announce it today, on August 15, for a long, long time, and it coincides with a lot of other news on college athletics, but we felt it was important to forge ahead because it is symbolic. We’re not stopping working because this thing’s happening or that thing’s happening. We’re charging ahead.”

According to the university’s press release about the network, “a majority of the on-demand programming, including campus lectures and performances, will be available for free, while live athletic events, classic games and other various programming will be premium-based content.” The cost of access to the premium content – which will include the football team’s season opener against Eastern Kentucky – is roughly $10/month or $80/year.

In easy English, the network will be an online television station. It will air academic programs such as lectures and presentations, but it will also show live athletic events, including one football game, whatever women’s basketball games are not already being televised elsewhere, and various volleyball and baseball games. The network may also show classic athletic games and/or game replays, press conferences, and original programming such as K-State Gameday.

Currie said that exposure for the university and its student-athletes is the goal of this project. He mentioned that it will be a recruiting advantage because coaches can tell parents of potential student-athletes that they will be able to watch all of their child’s home games online in high definition. Currie said the television agreement with the Big 12 gives Kansas State University uncommon flexibility in retaining rights to some of its live content.

“That is not a universal characteristic in intercollegiate athletics because most of the places now, the rights are warehoused and controlled by a single conference entity or network associated with that conference,” Currie said. “So it’s a real opportunity and advantage.”

Some fans, though, may not appreciate one aspect in particular of the new network. The football game against Eastern Kentucky this year will be exclusive to K-StateHD.TV, and live athletic events on the network are part of the premium programming – the programming that is not free. The bottom line is that if you don’t subscribe to K-State All-Access or K-StateHD.TV, you can’t watch the first game of the football season.

Overall, this seems like a positive, but in today’s economic climate, I don’t know that asking people to pay any more money to watch their college football games is the best idea. It’s only one game – for now – but the Longhorn Network is also televising one game – for now. It’s rumored that the second Texas game on the Longhorn Network will be its game against Kansas State, which could mean that there would be two football games fans would not get to see unless they subscribed to specific channels. Maybe this isn’t the direction everything is going, but it seems a little ominous.

For more information on this new network, check out its page on kstatesports.com.

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