The UConn women's basketball team has a network of their own -- of sorts.
Regional sports network SNY has signed a four-year rights deal with the University of Connecticut for TV rights to coach Geno Auriemma's storied women's program. Tipping with the 2012-13 school year, the RSN, trhe cable home to MLB's New York Mets, will air 17 of the basketball team's games, plus assorted other shoulder programming that will result in some hours of coverage annually.
The deal, carrying a rights fee of $4.55 million over its term, pending finalization of an executed contract between the parties, will end the UConn women's 18-year run on Connecticut Public Television, which paid $900,000 per year under the contract that expired with the past season that saw the Lady Huskies reach the national semifinals. The team has won seven NCAA titles.
The new agreement -- SNY president Steve Raab in a recent interview said the RSN had submitted an RFP for the rights -- expands the service's relationship with UConn : The channel is the local television outlet for Husky football and men's basketball through rights granted by the Big East Conference to ESPN Regional Television. As such, there will be plenty of cross-promotional opportunities..
With the pact, the UConn women's basketball program will expand its reach to some 13.7 million. SNY, which has carriage deals encompassing 8.7 million households in its coverage area of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and northeast Pennsylvania. An additional 5 million homes receive the service through pacts with DirecTV, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse and Comcast, according to SNY officials.
Similar to the deal CPTV has had with the women's team, SNY will televise 17 live UConn games per season, with the exact number dependent on several factors related to Big East broadcast agreements, including the games selected for national television.
All told, SNY will devote approximately 325 hours of coverage annually to UConn women's basketball: via the live games; encores of the contests; pre- and post-games shows originating from SNY's street-level studio in Manhattan; an in-season weekly coach's show; and a new program called "Geno's Legacy." This program, exhibiting two to three episodes annually, would feature interviews with former UConn players who have played a major role in the history of the program and highlight what these players are now doing in their lives.
"We're thrilled to become the official TV home of UConn women's basketball, the preeminent women's basketball program in the nation," said Steve Raab, president of SNY, in announcing the rights deal. "This is a landmark partnership and a special opportunity for SNY. Our unmatched distribution, unprecedented programming commitment, and live game production experience provides us the unique opportunity to help maintain and grow UConn's leadership position."
Noted UConn president Susan Herbst: "This new agreement with SNY will bring UConn women's basketball to more Husky fans than ever before throughout the region and the nation. This is a great opportunity for the University to further showcase our outstanding women's basketball program and reach our enthusiastic alumni base, both inside and outside the state of Connecticut.
"I would like to thank Connecticut Public Television, who has been our women's basketball television home for the past 18 years," she continued. "CPTV has been a loyal and dedicated partner, and both CPTV and UConn have benefitted from the relationship. We look forward to maintaining a relationship with CPTV, both institutionally and in terms of athletics with their new CPTV Sports channel."