|Launched||August 26, 2011|
|Owned by||University of Texas at Austin
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Verizon FiOS||79 (SD) (Texas only)
320 (SD) (Outside of Texas)
579 (HD) (Texas only)
|Google Fiber TV||Longhorn Network|
|Grande Communications||Check local listings|
|AT&T U-verse||609 (SD)
The Longhorn Network (LHN) is an American regional sports network focusing on sports-related programming for the University of Texas at Austin. The network, which launched on August 26, 2011, is a partnership between UT Austin, ESPN, and IMG College, and is operated by ESPN. It was available to 12.9% of the Austin television market after being picked up by AT&T's U-verse on August 31, 2012. The network was previously only available to 2.1% of the Austin television market, a fact that enraged many University of Texas sports fans, who were unable to watch several Longhorn football games each season.
The Longhorn Network, whose name and logo was revealed during the Texas Longhorns' spring football game on April 3, 2011, features events from 20 different sports involving the Texas Longhorns athletics department, along with original and historical programming. The network also features academic and cultural content from the UT Austin campus.
Verizon FiOS was the first national provider to carry LHN. On August 31, 2012, AT&T U-verse added the network. Several small cable systems in Texas have also added the channel: Consolidated Communications, Bay City Cablevision, Mid-Coast Cablevision, Texas Mid-Gulf Cablevision, En-Touch Systems, E-Tex Communications, and Grande Communications. On October 4, 2012, Cablevision Systems Corporation, a cable operator in the New York City area, added LHN, but only for its markets in the Western United States. New York City itself was not included in the deal.
Charter Communications announced the addition of LHN to their customers on December 31, 2012 as part of a wide-range long-term carriage deal with ESPN and Disney, with LHN to come online for Charter customers through the first half of 2013 in the company's Texas-Louisiana region, along with Virginia. Charter also took over Cablevision's western systems in the first quarter of 2013 and maintained the rights agreed to by Cablevision for LHN.
Systems not carrying LHN
When asked whether they'll carry the channel, DirecTV issued the following statement: "We've had discussions with ESPN about Longhorn Network, but we have no plans right now to carry it. We understand Longhorn has other programming that may be of value to a small segment of our customers, but two UT football games do not constitute a network. We're happy to carry those two games under the considerable fees we already pay ESPN for programming that includes the Big 12. Given the dynamic situation in college football conferences today, we'll wait and see how it all shakes out before we decide what we will or won't carry." 
Although the Longhorn Network has an internet presence hosted by ESPN, it’s unavailable to users unless the user also has a subscription to the cable network in the region. Patrick Ryan, Policy Counsel, Open Internet at Google pointed out that the reach as of September 2012 was about 10 million potential viewers, whereas if it were online, it could reach 230 million viewers in the U.S., or as many as 2 billion potential viewers.
- Longhorn Extra: A weekday broadcast covering news of the 20 university varsity teams.
- Rewind with Mack Brown: A Monday broadcast program featuring analysis from the football coach of the past weekend's game.
- Texas All Access: A weekly insider show to the Longhorns sports teams, focusing on the football team during the fall months.
- Game Plan with Mack Brown: A Thursday night preview show to the upcoming weekend's football game.
- Texas GameDay: A 2-hour pre-game show, similar in format to ESPN's College GameDay, on site at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium for home games and the Austin-based network studio for away games.
- Texas GameDay Final: A 90 Minute post-game show, similar in format to ESPN's College Football Final, on site at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium for home games and the Austin-based network studio for away games.
- Longhorn Legends: A roundtable discussion program with football coach Mack Brown and a rotating selection of former players.
- The Season: 2005 Texas Longhorns: An in-depth review of the team that brought a fourth national championship to the university.
- Texas' Greatest Games: A Top 10 countdown of what is considered to be the program's best football games.
- Texas' Greatest Athletes: A program covering those who are considered to be the best athletes (across all sports) the school has produced.
- Traditions: A look into how some of the university's historical sporting traditions started.
The first live sporting event was the women's volleyball team season opener against Pepperdine, which came on the launch date of the network. The first live football game on the network took place on September 3, 2011, against the Rice Owls. Longhorn Network expanded their sports coverage from the UT campus by adding five UTSA Roadrunners football games to their schedule (UTSA being in its inaugural football season in 2011), the first of which was September 10, 2011. The majority of the live events are handled by the Longhorn Network Operations department. This department manages the crew that sets up the equipment that is used to air the event. Over 200 live events were managed by this department during the 2011-2012 school year.
High school football
From the initial announcement of the Longhorn Network, ESPN had made it known that they desired to broadcast up to 18 high school football games per season. The idea caused quite an uproar among Texas A&M fans and administrators, due to what they viewed as possible recruiting violations, and directly led to A&M's decision to leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference in 2012. During an August 1, 2011, meeting of all Big 12 athletic directors, it was decided that the issue of broadcasting high school football games on the network would be postponed for one year. This would allow time for the NCAA to rule on the matter. On August 11, 2011, the NCAA ruled that no school or conference network would be permitted to broadcast high school sports or any other high school programming, effectively bringing the issue to a close.
Big 12 Conference football
In addition to a non-conference game each season, ESPN desired to place a Big 12 Conference game on the Longhorn Network. At the same Big 12 meeting discussing high school football broadcasts, it was agreed upon that a conference game would be acceptable as long as both schools and the conference office approved the broadcast. It was reported that ESPN asked Texas Tech for permission to broadcast their November 5 game against the Longhorns on the network. ESPN told the university that the game would most likely not be carried on any of the ESPN family of networks, leaving a broadcast on the LHN as its only option. In return, ESPN promised to televise two non-conference football games over the next four seasons, broadcast some other non-football programming, $5 million cash, and help from the network to try to arrange a home-and-home series against a top BCS conference school. Texas Tech passed on the offer with Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance explaining that "I don't want a Tech fan to have to give one dime to the Longhorn Network". ESPN then contacted Oklahoma State about a broadcast on the network, but Oklahoma State also refused the invitation to appear on the network. Texas Athletics eventually announced that the Kansas Jayhawks had agreed to let their game against the Longhorns on October 29 be shown on the network (KU's third tier media rights are also managed by LHN co-owner IMG College). The agreement allowed the Longhorn Network to be the national carrier of the game except for in Kansas markets, where the game was shown on local network affiliates. ESPN revealed plans to broadcast Texas Tech playing at Texas State on the Longhorn Network in 2012 but Texas Tech threatened to drop the game in favor of an 11 game schedule so the game was taken off LHN.
In November 2012, ESPN was forced to syndicate a second feed of a Longhorn football game in Austin against Iowa State to a network of ABC affiliates across Iowa (including Omaha's KETV) to provide access to the game within that state. A secondary announce team was used for the Iowa State feed. The same was done in September 2013 for a matchup against Ole Miss throughout the state of Mississippi.
Potential conflict of interest
Concerns have been raised by some fans, bloggers, and journalists that ESPN's financial stake in the Longhorn Network creates a potential conflict of interest. Some fear that ESPN's involvement in the network will inhibit journalistic integrity as ESPN has a financial interest in the success of the athletic programs at the University of Texas. Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch wrote: "The network's existence... creates an impossible situation for ESPN's college football producers and reporters (plenty of whom care about reporting). For every story ESPN does on Texas and its opponents, they'll be skeptics wondering what the motivation was for the story."
Additionally, some have questioned the stipulation included in the network's founding agreement that gives Texas the right to dismiss LHN announcers that don't "reflect the quality and reputation of UT." An ESPN spokesperson addressed the situation by stating: "This is not common in ESPN agreements because this UT network is so unique/new for us ...The provision does not allow for random replacement of commentators or reaction to critical comments... it's more about potential situations where a commentator makes completely inappropriate comments or gets involved in inappropriate actions."
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