American Sports Network may remain after all

Reports of the demise of the American Sports Network, one of Conference USA’s television partners, may be premature, the Gazette-Mail has learned.

The network, which has aired 10 Marshall football games over the last two seasons, may stay alive with a change in management structure. News of such an arrangement — with plans for stronger, more diversified distribution — may emerge in the coming week.

Industry news website FTV Live and the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reported that ASN will cease operations at the end of the month.

ASN, a division of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, is one C-USA’s four TV partners, along with CBS Sports Network, newcomer beIN Sports and the ESPN empire. Essentially, ASN gave more schools exposure in their home markets and elsewhere, through local over-the-air stations and cable outlets.

In the Kanawha Valley, ASN telecasts were available on WVAH, Channel 11, WCHS, Channel 8, or through their over-the-air subchannels, 11.2 or 8.2. ASN also is available on Suddenlink cable channel 125.

Sinclair, one of the nation’s largest broadcast companies, owns WCHS and operates WVAH in a local marketing agreement.

FTV Live reported that ASN staff members based in West Palm Beach, Florida, were told their roles have been eliminated. The Gazette-Mail learned that, yes, operations of a revamped ASN would be headquartered elsewhere.

FTV reported rumors that ASN’s remaining inventory will be picked up by Campus Insiders, a Chicago-based streaming service that carried the first round of the C-USA men’s basketball tournament.

Among other MU rivals in C-USA’s football East Division, ASN aired Old Dominion four times, Western Kentucky twice, Middle Tennessee three times, Charlotte twice, Florida Atlantic twice and Florida International twice.

ASN also has partnerships with a dozen or more conferences in football and/or basketball, and televised the Arizona Bowl (a Campus Insiders production). ASN also did some Division II football and basketball, as well as college hockey.

The production hasn’t been polished, by many accounts, and the picture doesn’t always look good on cable systems (a function of a high-definition production airing on a standard-definition outlet). As with some other games, play-by-play and analysis for Marshall-ODU football contest last fall was provided from a studio in Liberty, Missouri.

Contact Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougsmock and read his blog at http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/dougsmock/.

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