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SoCon, public TV enter partnership
Three GSU games, including Furman and App to be aired
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SPARTANBURG, S.C.—The Southern Conference, in conjunction with its marketing partner CSE, announced Monday the league has agreed to a three-year plan with public television systems in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to televise the conference’s football package.

The distribution platform will reach nearly 11 million homes through 32 affiliates, making it the largest regional distribution option across both broadcast and cable.  The conference’s football package for the 2011 season was also announced as part of the agreement.

"We’re genuinely excited by the partnership with Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina public stations," said Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino. "This is an important step for us. It increases our previous reach by two million households, while allowing us to control our rights and our content, and it enables us to use this partnership to promote and publicize not only SoCon football, but other educational activities taking place on our campuses."

This unique partnership provides each of the three state public television networks state-wide distribution of Southern Conference football games in 2011, 2012 and 2013, with coverage from Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB Media) also covering the Chattanooga, Tenn., market. The league is exploring additional distribution outlets in Alabama and Tennessee. The plan calls for an eight-game football package each fall.

"Working with the Southern Conference to broadcast these games is a real coup for viewers of public television and the thousands of alumni who live in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina," said Teya Ryan, president and executive cirector of GPB Media. "There is nothing like football to bring communities together and with our focus on K-12 education and improving high school graduation rates, this partnership is a perfect fit.  It’s also very exciting to partner with our fellow public broadcasters as a team and reach out to communities across the region."

The new agreement signals a shift for the conference from previous television agreements. The league, along with CSE, will now produce each telecast and will also retain the rights. In addition, the league will have control over pregame, halftime and postgame content while both parties will have an equal share of the sponsor breaks. 

Additionally, the SoCon, along with the statewide public television networks, will have the ability to simulcast the games on their Web site, so fans not in-state can cheer on their school. Eagle Vision webcasts of the Chattanooga and Furman games will allow Georgia Southern fans to watch the contests and listen to their broadcast team of Chris Blair, Terry Harvin and Ryan Chambers.

"Our goal was to find a consistent broadcast schedule for the SoCon Game of the Week," said CSE’s Senior Vice President Programming, Media Services, Ned Simon. "SoCon and public television’s high standards bode well for not just the growth of their partnership, but for each organization’s individual growth as well." 

The 2011 broadcast package begins Oct. 1 when last year’s co-champions, Appalachian State and Wofford square off in Spartanburg, S.C. Each of the eight televised games will be streamed live and archived through the conference Web site, on the individual public television sites. 

Georgia Southern games will be broadcast three times — Oct. 8 at home against Chattanooga, Oct. 15 at home against Furman an Oct. 29 at Appalachian State. Kickoff for all three games is 3 p.m.

The local GPB station is WVAN-TV Channel 9.

"This new partnership opens up a whole new market to the Southern Conference, its member schools and athletics programs," said Richard Johnson, director of athletics at Wofford College and president of the league’s Athletic Directors. "It’s a great opportunity to be able to partner 12 institutions of higher learning with public television to help each other with viewership. This new model is something that if successful, will be replicated by other leagues."

The conference office is also working with each of the three state systems to put together a similar distribution network to carry men’s and women’s regular season basketball games, as well as the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament in March 2012.