AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Longhorn Network has hooked AT&T U-verse, and it is now in the channel lineup as of early Friday morning.
It will be available for U-verse customers in Texas with the U100 package and above -- on channel 1609 in HD and channel 609 in SD. Outside of Texas, fans subscribing to the U-verse TV U450 package will have access to the exclusive programming.
That means Longhorns fans scored a big win even before the kickoff of the much-anticipated college football season that opens with a home game at UT on Saturday against Wyoming.
"Happy Friday, AT&T U-verse subscribers!" the UT Ex-Students' Association posted on its Facebook page. "You'll now be able to get Longhorn Network on channel 609 and in HD on 1609—just in time for tomorrow's game against Wyoming!"
Owner of Cuatro's on 24th and San Gabriel near campus, Cuatro Kowalski, says as soon as he heard U-Verse would pick up LHN, he called the company to subscribe right away.
"They told us at first they couldn't come out, and we kind of begged, and they said, 'OK, we'll have someone out there by 9 o' clock.'"
As part of the agreement, AT&T will also launch a live feed of Longhorn Network online to subscribers via computers, smartphones and tablets. While that is not available now, it is in the works for the future.
University of Texas President William Powers said Friday was a great day for Longhorn fans and thanked ESPN and AT&T for getting the deal done.
"They knew the demand among Longhorn fans out there and worked extremely hard. We were not doing negotiations, but we were in the loop every step of the way," said Powers.
Athletic director DeLoss Dodds said athletes were excited to hear their games would be seen across the country.
"This is an exciting day, especially for our student-athletes. It means a great deal to them and their parents," said Dodds.
Meanwhile, financial terms and other details of the agreement were not disclosed.
The network that centers around lucrative University of Texas at Austin sports is a 20-year, $300 million partnership between Texas and ESPN.
"We know fans are passionate about watching Longhorn football, and we're thrilled to offer Longhorn Network to U-verse TV customers in Texas and nationwide," said Jeff Weber, president of Content and Advertising Services with AT&T Home Solutions. "This is another example of how we continue to deliver the content customers want."
The network, still in its infancy, has struggled to reel in most major national distributors -- and before Friday was reportedly only available to 2.1 percent of the Austin television market.
Because of that, many fans in Longhorn Country have been disgruntled, deprived of watching several football games each season -- unless, of course, they're in one of the 100,119 seats at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium.
According to statistics provided by MediaBiz, there were 76,375 AT&T subscribers and 14,755 Grande subscribers during the second quarter of 2012.
Numbers from Neilsen's May 2012 U-verse estimates show the total paid TV households in Austin to be 592,430, with AT&T holding 12.89 percent of the market and Grande with 2.49 percent of the same market.
A New TV Homes report from last week shows the Austin market to have 705,280 households, with 10.8 percent subscribed to AT&T and 2.1 percent subscribed to Grande.
Fans said the deal could motivate them to switch their cable carrier, however, AT&T U-verse is not available in all neighborhoods.
"I'd switch tomorrow if they had U-verse in our area," said fan Drew Dunworth. "Unfortunately they don't have it yet."
Longhorn Network carriers
- Before AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS was the only national provider to carry LHN.
- Several small cable systems in Texas have also added the channel: Consolidated Communications, Bay City Cablevision, Mid-Coast Cablevision, Texas Mid-Gulf Cablevision, En-Touch Systems, E-Tex Communications and Grande Communications.
Major Texas providers that do not carry network
- Time Warner Cable
- Charter Communications
- Dish Network
Its studios sit where Concordia University used to be before its move, across from St. David's Medical Center in a privately owned high-rise where it leases space.
The network aired two Texas games when it debuted last year, including a Big 12 game against Kansas.
It will also televise two Texas State home games to welcome the university's inaugural season as a member of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. Those games will be Sept. 29 against Nevada and Nov. 10 against Louisiana Tech.
The Longhorn Network announced it would carry two Texas football games again this season, though it hasn't announced any Big 12 contests on its schedule.
ESPN said Wednesday that the Longhorns' first two games — both at home — will be televised on the network, which at that time still hadn't struck deals with most major national distributors.
The city plans to show the game on a big-screen at Republic Square Park at Fifth and Guadalupe streets and expects people to gather
at the downtown landmark around 6 p.m.
The opponents are Wyoming in the season opener Sept. 1 and New Mexico on Sept. 8. Both games will start at 7 p.m. Central time.
Other original Longhorn Network programming includes Longhorn Extra, Game Plan with Mack Brown, Texas All-Access, Texas GameDay and Texas GameDay Final.
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Back in June, Governor Rick Perry signed a new law officially letting teachers and students use greetings such as "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hannukah" in school, all without getting in any trouble.
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The Austin Humane Society reopened to the public Friday after closing its doors for six weeks.
Sub-freezing temperatures will continue across much of Central Texas all day Saturday. A second disturbance associated with the winter storm that slammed Texas Thursday and Friday could lead to more freezing precipitation Saturday and …