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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.

22 Responses to Fox Sports South, WKYT explain issues with Kentucky basketball quality on TV games

  • hawaiibillT says:

    I wondered about the quality. When I watched a game on justin.tv it looked better than it did on fox when I found it on fox west.

    • larryvaught says:

      FOX/WKYT is a hard thing for all of us to understand, but I have to believe all those folks want better quality too

  • david ball says:

    looks good to me…course, I live in Oregon where CBS is clear…

  • LindaS says:

    I thought it was my TV. I don’t have HD, but the color is always off and it looks pixelated at times. I think the real problem is one feed to another and the receiving feed does not have state of the art equipment. That is just my opinion. It’s older technology versus newer technology. It also makes it second generation to the feed and when it gets to you it is third generation and you lose quality. You also have to remember I bet these things are bouncing off of satellites and who knows what else before it gets to the TV. HD might help but not so sure, if I am wrong someone please let me know.

  • Juan4UK says:

    No, I have HD and a Sony Bravia TV. But, as I said before, I am stuck watching those games on the computer, which I also have a quality video card and good bandwith. I absolutley cannot tell one player from the next, including Wiltjer from Davis!!!
    OK, so now we know the issue. The price tag of the production equipment and the lack of ability for WKYT to invest in new equipment without a guarantee of contract. I understand that.
    But I will say this: Certainly I have zero experience in production nor in network start-ups (like the rumored SEC network). But I think that I can take a leap here and suggest that the new SEC network will likely decide to partner with local infrastructure in order to facilitate widespread involved coverage. And if an existing network has the infrastructure already in place, HD production equipment, etc. I would think that the network with that would be in a very good place.
    I just took it for granted that all local broadcast networks had already went HD, as I know at least 4 local areas of FL and also several I have seen in GA.
    But, I understand.

  • TheProfessor says:

    In my opinion, this is a UK issue, not a WKYT issue. UK can and should insist that IMG get this fixed as soon as possible, if not in time for the remaining games on their 2011-12 TV broadcast schedule, then certainly before another season rolls around. IMG makes tons of money and prestige from their association with UK Basketball, and UK needs to impress upon them that they need to put a first class production out for all UK basketball games.

  • Theresa says:

    Well said, Professor! UK should expect IMG to produce a first rate telecast because the Wildcats are producing a first rate performance!

  • Melvin says:

    So we can expect no HD broadcast until at least next season? Is that what I’m getting from this? Just wow if so! GBB

  • mike says:

    funny thing happened on sun. went to watch the lady cats play the cards on fox s s and that game was in hd. isnt img in control of all sports on tv at uk?

  • Jim B says:

    I have no complaints here in Cadiz. Just very happy to get the games at all and appreciate their effort.

  • That is a great attitude Jim B. We forget that it wasn’t very long ago that not every game was even broadcast live. I am very thankful for that despite all the issues!

    • larryvaught says:

      Jim and Regina, you are right. Sometimes we all get spoiled. I think back to the days that I went all year and never saw a game on TV, just had to sit by the radio and listen and keep my score/stat sheets

    • hawaiibillT says:

      growing up out west there were literally years I didn’t even get Ky scores in the papers now I don’t miss a game. loving it poor picture or good picture

  • kybasser says:

    Folks, it is really quite simple…. Lexington, like the TV market I live in, is just not big enough a market for the television stations to invest in the HD cameras. I love when they try to “jargon talk” their way out of just telling the truth. I mean come on, I’d love to even see my local telecasts, news, local sports, etc, in HD, but they just won’t spend the money. The local networks have also put it to us consumers. They buy the license for the network in their area. In my case, I live on the edge of their broadcast area, and can not receive their transmissions clearly, even with a roof top antenna. So I go sattellite. Now it used to be you could buy out of market stations, our locals were not available, but the TV networks went to congress and got a law passed preventing us from doing so. So now I HAVE to buy my local channels, which I offerred to do, if I could also buy out of market channels so I could get my HD programming. The laws prohibit that. Big Government really doesn’t care about us little people, the voters, they only care about the big time money contributors so they can flood our airways with their commercials. So, the bright side? Like the UK games, it won’t be in HD here either!!!! Vote small Government!!!

    Go CATS!!!!!!

  • Scott says:

    I own an uplink company, and between ESPN, Fox and some other sports networks, I broadcast nearly 100 hd and sd games per year. The problem is not their equipment per se, it’s that they buy as little bandwidth as possible to uplink their games. I’ve seen their satellite feed from my truck on occasion and they do not even use parameters that are acceptable for sd news on a national level. If they’d buy about triple the bandwidth that they currently do, there’d be a ten fold difference in quality. Or they could contract out the production and uplink for about $20,000/game. In my opinion, they’re not too concerned with the complaints; they know cat fans are going to watch, no matter the quality of the production.

    • larryvaught says:

      Scott, best explanation I have heard. Thanks for sharing and would love for you to keep us posted or update us even more

  • TheProfessor says:

    I am looking at the listing on Dish Network at the college basketball games on various Fox Sports channels tonight in HD.

    Georgia Tech and Georgia
    Vermont at St. Louis
    Pepperdine at N. Arizona

    and I wonder how is it that these games can be presented on Fox Sports channels in HD but UK basketball games can’t.

    I do not buy the lame excuses I have been reading in these pages for one minute.

  • TheProfessor says:

    Last season, I had directv, and I am certain that I watched the games on Fox South in HD. Over the summer I switched to Dish Network, and this season, none of UK’s games in HD. I thought it had to do with the Dish Network v Directv, until I saw this thread.

    Now I believe it is a change with UK, IMG, and WKYT.

    They have not answered the questions yet.

  • Patrick Curran says:

    Larry,

    Could you follow up with Mitch Barnhart and determine if UK is working on correcting this problem?

    Thanks!

  • jeff jackson says:

    they need to get it right or get out of the way let somebody else do it. Period.

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