The surprising decision was announced Tuesday. It will expand UConn's coverage area but sparked criticism from UConn fans who have grown accustomed to the unique coverage provided by CPTV. The agreement with a public TV channel was one of the situations associated with the rise in interest in women's basketball in Connecticut as Geno Auriemma's program moved to a national level.
SNY plans to devote nearly 325 hours of coverage annually to the women's program.
The decision is a big blow to CPTV.
"Obviously we are devastated and disappointed that they went with a New York-based firm," Jerry Franklin, president and CEO of CPTV, said in a statement. "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."
Here is the announcement released by UConn:
STORRS, Conn. (May 8, 2012) – The University of Connecticut has selected SNY to be its women's basketball regional television broadcast partner for the next four seasons, pending finalization of an executed contract between the parties.
This historic agreement will further reinforce UConn women's basketball television package as the best in the nation, which will now include enhancements in terms of household reach, programming opportunities and rights fees.
SNY will expand UConn women's basketball television coverage to nearly 14 million homes. SNY's regional territory includes all of Connecticut, NewYork , New Jersey and Northeast Pennsylvania for a reach of 8.7 million households. With national coverage on DirectTV, Verizon FiOS, Comcast Cable and AT&T U-Verse, SNY's total distribution is 13.7 million homes.
The rights fee provided to the University by SNY is anticipated to be $4.55 million over the four-year term of the contract which will cover the 2012-13 season through 2015-16 – approximately $1.14 million annually. The rights fee in the previous four-year agreement for UConn women's basketball television rights averaged $900,000 annually.
The new agreement with SNY will provide UConn with unique cross promotional opportunities as UConn's television packages for men's basketball, women's basketball and football will all be shown by the same carrier. SNY is the local television home for Husky football and men's basketball through rights granted by the BIG EAST Conference to ESPN Regional Television.
"I am very excited that SNY will be our television home for the next four years," says UConn women's basketball head coach Geno Auriemma. "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. 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."
"We're thrilled to become the official TV home of UConn women's basketball, the preeminent women's basketball program in the nation," said Steve Raab, President of SNY. "This is a landmark partnership and a special opportunity for SNY. Our unmatched distribution, unprecedented programming commitment, and live game production experience provides us the unique opportunity to help maintain and grow UConn's leadership position."
SNY is one of 14 managed regional sports networks by Comcast Sports Management Group. Comcast is the owner of NBC Universal and its NBC Sports Group. The entire NBC Sports Group will make Stamford, Conn., its new corporate headquarters next year.
"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 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."
"I would like to thank Connecticut Public Television, who has been our women's basketball television home for the past 18 years. CPTV has been a loyal and dedicated partner, and both CPTV and UConn have benefitted from the relationship. We look forward to maintaining a relationship with CPTV, both institutionally and in terms of athletics with their new CPTV Sports channel."
Similar to past years, a minimum of 17 live UConn games will be televised as part of the SNY package. The exact number of games is dependent on several factors related to BIG EAST broadcast agreements, including the number of games selected for national television.
"I am very impressed with the coverage that SNY will provide to our women's basketball program," said UConn Director of Athletics Warde Manuel. "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. SNY will provide our loyal Husky fans a terrific game presentation and production and will also feature a number of exciting multi-platform presentations."
SNY will devote approximately 325 hours of coverage annually to UConn women's basketball. In addition to the live games, there will be game replays, an in-season weekly coach's show and a new program called "Geno's Legacy." This program, which would have 2-3 episodes annually, would feature interviews with former UConn players who have played a major role in the history of the program and highlight what these players are now doing in their lives.
The annual number of hours also features in-depth pre game and post game shows for each broadcast that would originate live from SNY's street-level studio -- in the heart of Manhattan -- directly across the street from Radio City Music Hall.