Shocker Summer: When 10,666 seats weren’t enough, there was cable TV

07/16/2014 9:00 AM

07/11/2014 10:03 PM

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in The Eagle on July 17, 1981.

The Shocker Sports Superchannel is on the air.

If you are a cable television subscriber, just turn to Channel 4. All you get right now is promotion for the sale of the channel on a subscriber basis.

The first televised action will not be until Nov. 25, when Wichita State University’s basketball team will play the Olympic champion national team from Yugoslavia.

You will have to pay $78 for a decoder to unscramble the signal. That will buy you not only live telecasts of the Shockers’ 15 home games but also other WSU athletic events, according to Ted Bredehoft, director of athletics.

Bredehoft also announced Thursday that, in addition to live basketball, there will be replays of the basketball games as well as women’s basketball, and “possibly even tennis and baseball.”

Arrangements for the cable telecasts were made with Air Capital Cablevision and its parent company, Multimedia Cablevision.

Don Sbarra, president of Multimedia, said it would require only 5,000 subscribers to make the venture profitable and he estimated there will be 50,000 cable subscribers by the time the first game is telecast.

“Of course, we hope to do better than 5,000,” said Sbarra.

That number of subscribers would produce a gross of $390,000. Sbarra said his company will split proceeds with WSU 50-50 after expenses.

Special incentives are being used to encourage subscribers to sign up early. Those subscribing by July 31 will receive two reserved seats for WSU football games.

Also, those meeting that deadline who are not already cable subscribers will receive free installation provided they are in an area where service is available. There is also no charge to those who are cable subscribers already.

Only a last-minute rush for service would cause Air Capital any trouble in making the hookups in time, said Ron Marnell, the firm’s president and general manager. “That’s why we’re doing everything we can to get people to sign up early,” he said.

There will be no discounts and no advantage to subscribing later. “Even if you don’t sign up until Dec. 15, the cost will still be $78,” said Marnell.

Bredehoft said the local contract is unique to college athletics and that the only similar arrangement is one in pro basketball made by the Seattle SuperSonics.

Subscriber TV is in operation for Ohio State football on a per-game basis. Southern Cal has sold rights to its football and basketball games to a cable system which provides them free to its subscribers. This is also the case in Tulsa where a few football games have been telecast.

Marnell said Air Capital provides service for most of the city of Wichita as well as Bel Aire and Park City. Other cable franchises service surrounding communities.

Falling victim to the new contract are the tape-delayed telecasts of Shocker basketball games on Channel 13. Officials at first said they would probably continue. But Thursday, Bredehoft said they will not.

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