UConn has chosen SNY to show women's basketball games next season, leaving Connecticut Public Television, the school's TV partner for the past 18 years.
According to UConn, the four-year deal will expand the number of households that can see the games and increase rights fees. The deal is worth $4.55 million over four years, or $1.14 million per year. The previous four-year agreement with CPTV averaged $900,000 annually, according to UConn.
"This new agreement with SNY will bring UConn women's basketball to more Husky fans than ever before throughout the region and the nation," said UConn President Susan Herbst. "This is a great opportunity for the University to further showcase our outstanding women's basketball program and reach our enthusiastic alumni base, both inside and outside the state of Connecticut.
UConn women's basketball games were consistently the most-viewed programming on CPTV, so the loss of the contract comes as a huge blow to the public television station. CPTV may lose hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, and may have to consider layoffs, according to Jerry Franklin, president and CEO of CPTV.
"Obviously we are devastated and disappointed that they went with a New York-based firm," Franklin said. "We have had an 18-year history with UConn and thousands of people have told me over the years that we helped build UConn women's basketball into a national phenomenon. We have been inundated with people who are upset about this, and tomorrow there with be thousands more people who are upset. We think we have done more to increase visibility of women's basketball than any other media outlet," he said.
Franklin said CPTV asked UConn for a second look so that the station could try and match SNY's bid, but weren't granted one. He said he believes Herbst wants to promote UConn in New York, but that he wishes the team the best of luck in future seasons.
"CPTV has been a loyal and dedicated partner, and both CPTV and UConn have benefited from the relationship," Herbst said. We look forward to maintaining a relationship with CPTV, both institutionally and in terms of athletics with their new CPTV Sports channel."
Some fans aren't happy with UConn's decision either.
"I'm like 'you gotta be kidding me,'" said Susan Roesch. The problem for Roesch and many other fans is that they don't get SNY on their cable package.
"I'm angry, but I'm disappointed UConn would sell out for the money," Roesch said. "I love it. It's my whole social life in the winter from November, December to January," she said.
A minimum of 17 UConn games will be televised each year as part of the package with SNY, according to UConn.
"I am very impressed with the coverage that SNY will provide to our women's basketball program," said Warde Manuel, UConn's athletic director.
Last year, UConn entered an agreement with SNY to show UConn men's basketball and football games.
"SNY has been a great partner as our television home of Husky football and men's basketball, and we look forward to that relationship flourishing even more," Manuel said.
In addition to live games, SNY will also show game replays, a weekly coach's show during the season, and a new show called "Geno's Legacy." That show will air two or three times per year, and will include interviews with former UConn players.
"I am very excited that SNY will be our television home for the next four years," Geno Auriemma said. "This agreement will continue to provide all of our loyal fans in the state of Connecticut an opportunity to watch our team play, and will also help us develop a whole new group of UConn women's basketball fans throughout the Northeast and the entire nation."
Auriemma said the move to SNY could prove to be good for the program on many levels.
"SNY will also allow us to showcase UConn women's basketball to a larger audience, which will support our recruiting efforts and help us maintain the level of success in our program."
The contract between UConn and SNY is still being finalized, according to the university.