Oklahoma gets ready to broadcast their spring game to the world today at 4pm. But that broadcast will not include DirecTV as sources confirmed to SoonerScoop late Friday evening. The satellite giant will not carry the game on its channels.
DirecTV and Bally Sports cited “capacity constraints” on multiple occasions to OU administrators and internal employees as the reason why the game will not be carried live on DirecTV channels.
OU officials are expecting DirecTV subscribers to be able to access today’s scrimmage through the Fox Sports Go app, but there is confusion if that includes patrons who live inside the state of Oklahoma.
We reached out to Bally Sports and OU Athletics to determine if some sort of spring game blackout was in effect for DirecTV consumers in Oklahoma, but that answer remains unclear.
As of this article, OU spokespersons are confused what this all means for today’s broadcast for DirecTV subscribers.
It is a confusing time for the future of regional broadcast channels like Bally Sports Oklahoma.
The Red & White Game is a key part of the Sooners’ third tier rights package that generates millions of dollars for the athletic department. Nine years ago, this was a package that was put together by OU that capitalized on the sporting events not covered by ESPN or Fox.
These were the sporting events that had value, but resided outside the confines of primetime television: OU’s spring game and one regular season out of conference matchup.
That out of conference matchup is why you endure a pay-per-view game each season.
That pay-per-view game brings in millions for the athletic department. And that’s why you endure the ‘PPV’ game each year.
But tomorrow is the annual spring game. Something that generates excitement. It’s one of the biggest events on the OU sports calendar that happens outside the months of September and January.
And for the most part, it’s been executed as a spirited exhibition that everyone enjoys. People have paid pennies to attend in comparison to regular season games.
While most OU fans have watched the scrimmage comfortably from their own homes without issues, the Bally’s Sports/Fox Sports transition shows us how times have changed. While the world faced a pandemic, the sports broadcasting world underwent a change.
Fox Sports’ regional channels such as Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Midwest and Fox Sports Oklahoma came up for sale.
These were key cogs in OU’s third tier rights package. This was the bedrock for OU’s multi-million dollar broadcasting deal with Fox Sports.
The Fox Sports regional channels were sold off to the Sinclair Broadcast Group, who wound up the winning bidder.
And with the networks, Sinclair took the Sooners’ third tier broadcast rights.
Fast forward to tomorrow and Oklahoma is preparing for their first spring game since 2019 and the landscape of broadcasting has changed dramatically.
Fox Sports Oklahoma/Southwest/Midwest has been rebranded as Bally’s Sports Oklahoma/Southwest/Midwest.
It’s the same thing the Oklahoma City Thunder broadcasts have undergone. Sinclair has taken full control of these regional channels and they’ve fought for a place on your televisions.
The problem for tomorrow’s Red & White scrimmage is that consumers have been cutting the cord to cable providers changing their viewing habits.
While this has been going on, OU’s main distribution channel for third tier rights have changed hands and they are now in limbo.
Sinclair/Bally Sports doesn’t have carriage deals with YouTube TV, Hulu, or most of the major streaming services. They are available on AT&T TV, a live streaming service.
All of this leads to a lot of speculation on where you can watch OU’s spring scrimmage today.
Locally, Cox Communications remains a cable provider where you can see all Bally’s Sports Oklahoma programming. But it’s one of the few.
DirecTV’s failure to broadcast the game sets a tone for today. And we’re not sure if the Fox Sports Go app will work for OU fans wanting to watch the game inside Oklahoma’s borders.
YouTube TV users don’t have access to Bally’s Sports, but some fans are confident the game will be played on one of the multiple Fox Sports College channels.
We can’t confirm any of those claims.
And the OU administration is not sure how this will all play out today.
It’s truly a new day in sports broadcasting.
The one thing we do know is DirecTV’s decision to not broadcast the game live has opened up OU’s ability to offer a live stream of the game to everyone outside of the state’s borders on SoonerSports.TV.
And we also know this: OU’s relationship with Sinclair and Bally Sports Oklahoma is precarious at best.
The last nine years have been beneficial for Oklahoma and the Fox Regional Sports properties.
Maybe the Sooners will look at other opportunities moving forward.