Verizon, looking for an edge against cable rivals in the Garden State, inked a pact with newspaper publisher Star-Ledger/NJ.com making the telco's FiOS1 local channel the exclusive broadcast partner of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association through 2015.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
FiOS1, channel 1 on Verizon's FiOS TV, will broadcast 36 regular-season high school games per year including basketball, football, lacrosse and soccer. The telco also has exclusive television broadcast rights to all New Jersey state high school sports playoff and championship games through the 2015 season.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has had "many organizations approach us over the years about televising a high-profile game or several games over the course of a school year, but FiOS1 was the first TV operation to support the NJSIAA with an annual sponsorship commitment, and a multiyear one at that," according to Steven Timko, the association's executive director. "With this new agreement, they are extending and expanding that support."
In the New York market, Cablevision Systems has a dedicated high-school sports channel, MSG Varsity, serving six regions in the area. The MSO is negotiating with New York City's Public School Athletic League for rights to air games.
In a statement responding to Verizon's announcement, Cablevision-owned MSG Varsity said that since the network's launch in 2009, the network has aired 6,000 full-length games, including more than 1,000 in New Jersey. "This school year we plan to feature more than 500 full-length games in New Jersey including next week's live HD broadcast of the Bergen Catholic vs. Don Bosco rivalry game airing at 7:00 p.m on MSG Varsity, Cablevision's iO TV (channel 14)," MSG Varsity said.
On FiOS1, New Jersey high-school games will air at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, with replays throughout the week. Games also will be available through FiOS TV's video-on-demand service.
"This exclusive high school sports programming is another reason why FiOS1 continues to grow as a destination for FiOS TV customers to tune into for news, entertainment and sports programming," FiOS1 director of programming Michelle Webb said in a statement. "With our partner, Star-Ledger/NJ.com, we will be able to bring viewers unique content they won't be able to find anywhere else."
Verizon's partnership with Star-Ledger/NJ.com includes online streaming of games at NJ.com; promotional opportunities; and cobranding of games.
More information on FiOS1 is available at www.fios1news.com. Verizon provides local channels covering three geographic areas: New Jersey, Long Island, N.Y., and the Washington, D.C., area.