The nation’s annual rite of mayhem and pageantry known as the college football season began this weekend with marquee games on the schedule, including Alabama against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic, Oklahoma State against Mississippi State in the Texas Kickoff Classic in Houston, and LSU against Texas Christian in the Cowboys Classic in Arlington.
Those matchups were not only set to be televised by ESPN. They were creations of ESPN — demonstrations of the sports network’s power over college football.
The story you're reading is premium content from the Austin American-Statesman. Subscribers get total access to all our in-depth news, digital editions and exclusive premium content. You can now also buy a 24-hour digital pass or 7-day digital pass.
For Subscribers: Sign in here if you have already registered your account.Sign In
For Subscribers: Register your account for digital access.Access Digital
Read MyStatesman.com now — 24-hour digital pass99¢ for 24-hours
Read MyStatesman.com all week — 7-day digital pass$3.99 for 7-days
Subscribe to the Statesman for as little as 33¢ per dayView Offers
UT’s deal with ESPN
The Longhorn Network — a 20-year, $300 million joint venture between ESPN and the University of Texas — launched in August 2011, broadcasting from studios near the UT campus.
The network, staffed by veteran ESPN employees, broadcasts round-the-clock coverage of UT athletics as well as occasional non-sports programming.
This fall, LHN had exclusive rights to air three football games: New Mexico this weekend, Ole Miss on Sept. 14 and Kansas on Nov. 2. It’s also set to broadcast 23 soccer and volleyball games this season.
The network has been on the air for two years but remained off limits for most Central Texans until this weekend. Time Warner Cable, the area’s dominant cable company, said Friday that it had agreed with ESPN to carry it.
LHN is also available to AT&T U-verse and Grande Communications subscribers, but not on Dish Network or DirecTV.
Before the Time Warner deal, LHN said it reached about 1.5 million homes statewide.
— Gary Dinges, American-Statesman staff