If you’re having a rough time at work, just take a deep breath and remember that football season is almost here. For Texas Longhorn fans out there with the, ahem, right cable provider, that means the Longhorn Network is back.
Longhorn Network has a number of new programs and partnerships in store for the upcoming season. Justin Connolly, ESPN’s senior vice president of programming for college networks, is excited about this third year.
“We actually feel like we’re in a pretty good spot here in Austin and with the Longhorn Network," Connolly says. "Between last year and this year, we’ve added two more top 10 distributors to the mix.”
Charter Communications and Cox Communications are the latest providers to pick up the Longhorn Network for broadcasting, bringing with them viewers in Dallas and Fort Worth as well as rival territory Oklahoma and Louisiana. Connolly also addressed that pesky Comcast and Time Warner situation saying only that they are working out deals with the providers.
So what can viewers expect from Longhorn Network this season?
Fall programming includes exclusive broadcasting rights for three games this year:
- New Mexico State on August 31 (season opener)
- Ole Miss on September 14
- Kansas on November 2
In addition to exclusive broadcasts, the network will air a simulcast of the BYU game on September 7, serving as a Texas-centric supplement to the official telecast on ESPN2.
Longhorn Network is introducing a mosaic of six camera angles, making it seem like you're watching football in the Matrix.
“Last year we focused with just one camera; this year we’re going to matrix the screen a little bit,” says Stephanie Druley, vice president of production. After receiving mixed reviews after last season’s game against Ole Miss at the Alamo Bowl, Druley hopes the third time's the charm.
“It’s really a second screen. It’s not meant to be your primary view of the game, although you’re welcome to do it that way.”
The network is celebrating Longhorn history with retrospective looks at two of the greatest moments in UT football history. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Texas national championship, and the documentary 1963 examines the season and the players who became legends. The hour-long program features interviews with 15 former players, including the legendary Tommy Nobis and 1963 MVP Duke Carlisle.
This year also marks 15 years since Ricky Williams became the second Longhorn to receive the Heisman Trophy. The Longhorn Network has crafted an original documentary on his historic season titled The Season: Ricky’s Heisman.
Ricky Williams joins LHN
Viewers won't just be seeing Ricky Williams in old footage this season. The former running back joins Longhorn Network analysts Lowell Galindo and Ahmad Brooks for pre-game, halftime and post-game coverage of all Longhorn football games.
Williams is increasing his presence from five games last year to a full season in 2013. On top of the television duties, Williams begins his first year of coaching as an assistant running back coach at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.
A certified yoga instructor, Williams is a triple-threat talent. “I thought that when I retired, I wouldn’t do anything to do with football for the rest of my life, but it hasn’t turned out that way," Williams says. "I’m enjoying coaching, and I’ve enjoyed doing the show last year way more than I though I would.”
Also joining the Longhorn Network crew this season is former University of Georgia quarterback David Greene, who helped the Bulldogs earn two SEC Eastern Division titles and the SEC championship in 2002. Greene is expected to provide a quarterback’s view of the game along with some film study. As an SEC guy, Greene will hopefully bring a much needed outsider's take on Texas football.
With additional new programming coming this season, Longhorn Network is trying to make the case for more cable provider partners. “A combination of hard work and patience [will help us] get there on the distribution side over the course of the next year and years to come,” Connolly says.