Pitt launches Pitt Panthers Television

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Pitt and Comcast announced Tuesday the launch of Pitt Panthers Television, a programming service that will present more than 500 hours of Pitt athletics coverage per year.

It debuted Tuesday and will broadcast live football and men's basketball pre- and postgame shows, women's basketball games and women's volleyball games as well as other Olynpic sports and original programming.

It also will feature rebroadcasts of all home football games, some live broadcasts of men's basketball games as well as football coach Dave Wannstedt's weekly news conference. Men's basketball and football games also will be available via On Demand.

Pitt Panthers Television will not be available initially as part of Comcast's basic cable package, but Pitt associate athletic director of marketing Chris Ferris said the hope is that it will be at some point.

It will be available with second-tier packages to people in Central and Western Pennsylvania on Channel 188 or Channel 210.

"Comcast is excited to make this exclusive programming available to our customers," said Jerry Norris, Comcast vice president of marketing for the keystone region. "Just as Pitt is committed to athletic excellence, Comcast is committed to giving our customers more of what they want, and Pitt Panthers Television gives them more choice and -- with its Xfinity On Demand content -- more control."

Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson, who said the school will make money off the venture through selling advertisements and generating sponsorships, called this an exciting venture for the school that can provide new content for fans.

He said there already has been some programming running over the past few weeks to get a feel for how things will work.

Wannstedt's news conference Tuesday, for instance, was televised live, and there have been other shows -- all produced in-house by the staff of PantherVision -- already broadcast.

Pederson said that the men's basketball games which will be available will not be determined until the national networks and broadcast partners -- like FSN Pittsburgh -- select the games they want.

"There are always a few games which aren't televised, and we've televised those in different ways in the past," Pederson said. "But we'll take any games that go untelevised under our current contracts and put them on Pitt Panthers Television. So, we're excited about that, and it will include women's basketball games, Olympic sports -- these are things we've never done before."

Pederson said other schools in the Big East Conference such as Connecticut and Syracuse have announced similar initiatives, and that it is seemingly the way many athletic departments are headed.

The first football rebroadcast will be the Miami-Pitt game Thursday, and it will air Sunday. The rebroadcast, however, will not be the ESPN feed, but rather the production of PantherVision staff and will feature radio call by Bill Hillgrove and Bill Fralic.

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720


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