By LARRY VAUGHT
Coach John Calipari’s team won’t be playing on FOX Sports South again until Kentucky hosts Loyola Dec. 22 and a perfect Christmas present for many UK basketball fans would be a higher quality telecast. Kentucky fans have not been happy with the quality on FOX Sports South games this year and let me know that through Twitter, email, calls.
So what’s the problem? Why do games look better on WKYT-TV replays than on FOX Sports South live game telecasts?
To help you understand the situation, I went to two great sources – WKYT general manager Wayne Martin and FOX Sports South media relations coordinator Ellen Schnettler. Both understand fans’ concerns. Martin is a former coach and Clark County native. Schnettler is a native Kentuckian. They know the passion fans have when it comes to the Wildcats, especially with a team this good.
Schnettler said she had seen “several tweets” mentioning the games and a recent guest blog post on vaughtsviews.com “in regards to the quality of the UK men’s basketball games on FOX Sports South” and offered an explanation about the broadcast quality.
“FOX Sports South is privileged to be the distributor of a package of University of Kentucky basketball non-conference games. These games are provided to FOX Sports South through a licensing arrangement with IMG College and its local production partner, Lexington-based television station WKYT-channel 27,” said Schnettler. “Under this arrangement, select UK non-conference basketball games are produced by WKYT under IMG’s supervision. FOX Sports South has no role in the production of these events. We are simply a distributor of these games as they are produced and delivered to us.
“FOX Sports South has heard from many UK fans who have expressed their desire to have these games produced in high definition. We have shared with IMG this widely expressed desire, along with our own expressed desire, to produce these games in high definition. It is our hope that IMG and WKYT will respond to these requests and make the necessary production enhancements to these telecasts.”
Sounds reasonable. So why has that request not been met? That’s a question I wanted to let Martin answer for Kentucky fans rather than me trying to guess what might be happening. Martin had no problem explaining WKYT’s position.
“We do not produce the games in HD (high definition). We will consider that in the future if our agreement with IMG/UK is renewed,” Martin said.
Key word there is “if” the agreement is renewed.
Why is that key?
“It is a huge investment. We must be assured that we will have games to produce. There is talk of the SEC doing their own network,” Martin said.
If that happens, WKYT would have made a “huge investment” with no games to show. That makes no business sense.
Yet Martin wants fans to know what WKYT is doing now to try and produce the best game coverage possible.
“We produce the games on 16 x 9 digital. Watching it directly from us live or delayed on WKYT or CWkyt the quality is slightly below HD but still very good quality,” he said. “There definitely has been a quality deterioration when it airs on FOX. It is either in our satellite distribution to them or their’s to the cable and satellite systems. We are trying to determine and fix it. Thanks for asking.”
No, thanks for trying to explain an obviously complicated position to the fans.
There’s no right or wrong here. Obviously, both WKYT and FOX Sports South want the best product possible. However, seems like speculation about a future SEC Network – and with the money to be made who can doubt that is coming – would make it hard for WKYT to justify spending a lot of money for this and that leaves FOX Sports South and WKYT in Wildcat limbo for the only other two UK men’s games left on the television schedule this season.