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K-State announces deal with Sidearm and ESPN3; no more paid content on KStateHD

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KStateHD made money, so obviously this move will make more.

A very sudden change, and you can all put your wallets away now.
A very sudden change, and you can all put your wallets away now.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In a bombshell press release, K-State announced a move today nobody was expecting, especially with the season opener less than two weeks away: KStateHD.tv, as a paid provider of live streaming event content, is effectively dead.

Not because it’s been a failure -- the third-tier digital outlet brought several million dollars of revenue to the school each year, even if most of that was single-month subscriptions in order to view the lone FCS game each year — but because the athletic department found a deal it could not pass up.

K-State has signed agreements with Sidearm and ESPN3 to distribute its digital content, including over 20 live contests in multiple sports. This is in addition to content which is already being carried by ESPN3.

Additionally, the deal with Sidearm means the launch of a new version of kstatesports.com, as well as new mobile apps. The new site will launch next week and be available prior to the season opener, and the season opener with Central Arkansas will now air on ESPN3 with Brian Smoller and Travis Tannahill on the call.

This is, however, absolutely not the end of KStateHD as an entity. The network will be folded into the Sidearm release, and all KStateHD content which is not being broadcast by K-State’s other media partners will now become free, including press conferences and on-demand content. Further, KStateHD will continue to serve as the content producer for all third-tier K-State content.

Why this? Why now, so suddenly?

The answer is pretty obvious. In concert, the deal K-State is getting from ESPN3, possibly in conjunction with savings realized by having Sidearm handle the web infrastructure, is more profitable than the old model.

This is really huge news, and the resulting product should be a welcome change for K-State fans. Aside from broader exposure via ESPN3, having an available mobile app should be a massive experience improvement for Wildcat faithful.

Edit: Tim Fitzgerald reported via Twitter that SportsLabs, K-State’s former partner in KStateHD, departed the picture in some fashion, which obviously indicates that perhaps this move was forced on K-State. SportsLabs is owned by Silver Chalice, a partner in the new Stadium web network which will be broadcasting live games via Twitter and other platforms; that situation may have something to do with this. We’ll report more later as we have more information.