Kansas State football fans won’t be able to watch the Wildcats on traditional TV when they play their next game against Oklahoma State on Sept. 28 at Boone Pickens Stadium.
The game will be played at 6 p.m. and streamed online through ESPN+, the Big 12 and its television partners announced Monday.
ESPN+ is a relatively new sports streaming service that ESPN offers in addition to its traditional TV programming. A subscription costs $5 per month.
More and more Big 12 games across all sports are beginning to appear on ESPN+, as the Big 12 struck a deal with the network for most of its third-tier games to appear on the streaming site under the name Big 12 Now. It is the closest thing the conference has to its own network.
The majority of K-State’s nonconference basketball games will be streamed on ESPN+ later this year, along with at least one football game in future years.
K-State played on ESPN+ earlier this season when the Wildcats hosted Nicholls, but that was supposed to be their only appearance there all season. The Big 12 previously announced that all football games between conference opponents would be broadcast on traditional TV.
Those plans changed when ESPN approached the conference about adding extra games to Big 12 Now, according to an e-mail from Big 12 senior associate commissioner Bob Burda.
“In talking with our ESPN partners,” Burda wrote, “it was agreed there was an opportunity to continue growing the new Big 12 on ESPN+ platform in this first year. It was covered under ESPN’s core rights agreement, and ESPN decided to put it on ESPN+ as a way to continue growing Big 12 Now on ESPN+.”
In other words: ESPN thinks this game can boost its streaming subscriptions.
Kansas and West Virginia will also play on ESPN+ this Saturday when the Jayhawks host the Mountaineers at 3:30 p.m.
At the moment, Burda said no other Big 12 football games are expected to be added to the ESPN+ service this season, “but we may explore the possibility if both the conference and ESPN think it makes sense.”
A game without traditional TV coverage shouldn’t feel any different for cord-cutters, but it could inconvenience fans who subscribe to cable and satellite services.
It is interesting that ESPN selected K-State at Oklahoma State for its streaming channel, considering both teams are off to 3-0 starts. That has potential to be the game of the weekend.
Big 12 Football Schedule for Sept. 28
Texas Tech at Oklahoma: 11 a.m. on Fox
Kansas at TCU: 11 a.m. on FS1
Iowa State at Baylor: 2:30 p.m. on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
K-State at Oklahoma State: 6 p.m. on ESPN+