UT students and Longhorn Network collaborate to improve fans’ opinions

David Maly

ESPN’s Longhorn Network added a local touch to their airwaves Sunday with the release of the student-led “Watch what you love” marketing campaign, a move officials hope will address controversy over the network’s limited availability and demonstrate their support of UT.

Throughout the past spring semester, UT advertising lecturer Ryan Romero and six advertising students worked in conjunction with LHN representatives to create a series of six commercials promoting the year-old Longhorn Network. Two of the commercials, titled “Little Longhorn” and “Homesick,” aired Sunday on LHN and ESPN and four more will air in the next two weeks. Hannah Puckett, an advertising senior who worked on the commercial, said this was an excellent opportunity for LHN to show its true goal is not greed, but Longhorn pride.

“People are only against [Longhorn Network] for taking games away from the fans,” she said. “[LHN] is not trying to do that. They just want people that love longhorn sports to have a better place to go for UT content.”

LHN spokeswoman Keri Potts said talk between LHN and other television service providers are currently ongoing and the decision over which TV networks will broadcast fall football games has not yet been decided.

Students involved in the campaign include Puckett, Katelyn Griffiths, advertising and theatre and dance senior, now UT alumnus Cody Tidmore and advertising graduate students Kyle Leavitt, Jennifer Bankston, and Johnathan Wynn.

Controversy over LHN arose at its inception due to debates about the purpose of the network and scheduling issues. Since LHN is currently only available with certain television service providers, such as Grande Communications and other smaller providers, many local businesses cannot broadcast its content. Last fall, two UT-Austin football games and five UT-San Antonio football games aired exclusively on the Longhorn Network, sparking outrage among some Austin Longhorn fans who did not get the channel.

Wynn, who also worked on the commercial, said the project was a very memorable and educational experience for him and his student colleagues.

“We were present for the shoots, got to work in the editing room and just touched on every aspect of the process,” he said. “From start to finish, students were involved. It was a great opportunity, one that few have.”

Leti Cancino, hostess at Champions Sports Bar in downtown Austin, said she hopes the negotiations are quickly resolved between LHN and Champions’ TV provider, DirecTV, since lacking certain UT content has become an issue for them.

“A lot of people call and ask if we have the Longhorn Network,” Cancino said. “People would expect that we would have it, being in downtown Austin, and being a bar known for extensive sports content.”

Puckett said one of the commercials released, “Little Longhorn,” has received over 22,000 hits via YouTube since being posted Monday, a show of support that makes her work feel worthwhile to her.

“It’s been really cool to see the reaction from the UT community,” she said. “They have wholeheartedly embraced our commercials, and that is the most rewarding part of it all.”