The 18-year partnership that helped prove there’s an audience for collegiate women’s basketball came to an end last week when the University of Connecticut dumped the state’s public TV network for SportsNet New York, a regional cable network with vastly greater reach than Connecticut Public Television. Women’s basketball has been a ratings winner for CPTV, boosting its membership and underwriting revenues, and President Jerry Franklin moved quickly to try to stem the losses. Two days after UConn announced its new contract with SportsNet, Franklin unveiled a licensing deal with Connecticut Sun of the Women’s National Basketball Association. Broadcasts begin airing May 20 on “CPTV Sports.”
Still, Franklin anticipates repercussions from the loss of UConn women’s basketball — for both CPTV and UConn. “We have about 100,000 members — radio and television — and about one-third are members because of UConn women’s basketball,” he said.