The Ohio High School Athletic Association has announced that SportsTime
Ohio, in partnership with Time Warner Cable, has been selected as the primary telecast outlet for the
association's state tournaments. The decision ends an eight year
relationship between the OHSAA and ONN, which previously handled
Terms of the deal – which includes live television rights for state competitions in all 24 sanctioned sports – have yet to be revealed. What is known is that in early August, the OHSAA rejected bids from several companies, including ONN and SportsTime Ohio because they were perceived as being too low. ONN’s bid was $4 million over an unspecified amount of years.
In 2004, the Minnesota State High School League signed a 10-year, $20
million dollar deal with a local ABC affiliate to televise its state
hockey, football and basketball finals.
According to the OHSAA, the new partnership will nearly triple the potential audience for the telecasts and increases the rights fees paid to the OHSAA. Besides covering the six state football championships, four girls state basketball championships and four boys state basketball championships, SportsTime Ohio and Time Warner will cover many other marquee OHSAA tournament events, including championships in sports where there has not been statewide coverage in the past. Also included in the agreement is a trade package to promote OHSAA service initiatives, such as the “Respect The Game” sportsmanship and “Buckle Up for a Successful Season” safety belt campaigns, as well as event and ticket sales.
“Needless to say, this is a very exciting time for the association, our member schools and all fans of Ohio high school athletics,” OHSAA commissioner Dan Ross said. “Through this agreement with two powerful television partners, we will not only showcase the many positive achievements of student-athletes involved in OHSAA tournaments, but we will also promote the initiatives and values of the OHSAA and its member schools. We are thrilled to begin working with SportsTime Ohio and Time Warner Cable and look for of expanding television programming opportunities of OHSAA events in the future.”
SportsTime Ohio was started in 2005 by the Dolan family, which also owns the Cleveland Indians. The channel was created to carry Indians games but has since increased its content to include the Cleveland Browns, Ohio State, Cleveland State, regional sports and high school sports.
STO’s partnership with Time Warner Cable, Ohio’s largest cable company, was forged to deliver OHSAA programming to over 3.1 million homes statewide and will include analog cable clearance on Time Warner Cable, Cox Cable, Buckeye CableSystem, Massillon Cable, Insight Cable, Armstrong, AT&T, UVerse, WOW! and dozens of other smaller, hometown cable systems; DirecTV and Dish! Network satellite distribution on analog and standard packages with national distribution outside of Ohio on the Sports Package, and availability on Time-Warner Cable’s “Local on Demand” service.
The OHSAA is also continuing discussions with companies interested in providing live and delayed video internet streaming of several OHSAA tournament events. Plans are in the works for the OHSAA to have a statewide web site that would provide coverage and distribution to the 60-to-70 million homes in the U.S. that have broadband access. Ross said he hopes to announce details of a partnership in the near future.
Said Ross: “Through the television partnership and our pending internet package, the potential is there to deliver OHSAA events on a scale never seen before.”