If you want to watch high school sports on TV, Bright House Sports Network is going to be your channel.
The cable sports station announced Thursday that it signed a three-year deal with the Florida High School Athletic Association — allowing it to produce and televise all state quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games in sports such as football, basketball and soccer. The station already airs more than 200 regular-season high school games.
Under the new deal, BHSN will televise a minimum of 60 high school post-season games each year in HD to Orlando and Tampa Bay customers. The channel is also teaming with Comcast, Cox, Charter, and Time Warner Cable to make available select games throughout Florida and 19 other states, expanding the number of potential households that will be able to view the games to more than 20 million.
“This is a historic development for Florida high school sports coverage,” Elliott Wiser, Vice President of Local Programming for Bright House Networks, said in a news release. “We are excited to partner with the FHSAA to produce a wide spectrum of sports live for our customers. High school sports have quickly become an important part of the television sports landscape.”
Sun Sports previously held the rights to FHSAA championship games.
There are some new, improved websites in Orlando TV news, courtesy of WESH 2 and WOFL-Fox 35.
The new WESH.com site rolled out on Thursday along with others in the Hearst TV chain. The Internet Broadcasting-powered site is a big improvement of the previous version, though the homepage is still a bit cluttered. The colors are somewhat muted with a lot of gray, but that helps content stand out more than station branding. There’s a content rotator at the top to play up big stories, and weather is easily found above the scroll on the right side.
Among the best new features are an easy to use horizontal navigation bar, Facebook integration for story commenting, larger video player and photo galleries, and large icons that make it easier to use the site when viewing on an iPad or Android tablet.
The latest version of MyFoxOrlando.com debuted earlier this month, and it too is an improvement on its predecessor. This time Fox outsourced its web hosting to World Now. The new Fox site has its weather radar prominently above the scroll and a cleaner look to content areas on its home page, along with lots of “Fox” red and blue colors. The footer area at the bottom of the page nearly takes up a full screen — for no apparent reason.
After seven years, anchor Cale Ramaker has quietly left WOFL-Fox 35. His final appearance on the station was last Thursday.
Wednesday morning, NewsBlues.com first reported Ramaker’s departure. After several websites also reported the news, Ramaker himself confirmed it on his Twitter account. “I kept quiet about it but, yes, I’ve left Fox 35 in Orlando. Specifics aside, I will be moving west and starting my new job July 16,” he tweeted.
Laurie Jacoby, Ramaker’s agent, told Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker that Ramaker “has accepted another position, which we are not at liberty to discuss yet because his new station has not made an announcement. It’s a very exciting opportunity, and he is looking forward to a new challenge.”
NewsBlues, quoting “friends,” says Ramaker is heading to San Diego.
Ramaker joined Fox 35 in 2005 as the main male anchor on its 10 p.m. newscast. The station’s news footprint expanded during Ramaker’s tenure, and he also anchored at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
WOFL brought in former WKMG-Local 6 anchor Bob Frier in December 2009 and used him on the station’s hourlong 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts – somewhat diminishing Ramaker’s role at Fox 35.
Still, Ramaker had his admirers – even at rival stations. “Fox35 has lost a darned good anchor. Good luck, Cale Ramaker,” tweeted WFTV-Channel 9 News Director Bob Jordan.
Self-proclaimed Weather Authority Fox 35 is getting some help in its forecasting department.
Fox Television Stations signed a deal with AccuWeather to partner with 11 Fox owned-and-operated stations. The deal includes running AccuWeather’s content online and “jointly produced and branded content across virtually all of the stations’ media platforms.”
“Weather is one of the most important services our stations provide to their communities and has long been a major focus for FTS,” Ron Stitt, the Fox group’s vice president of digital media and internet operations, told BroadcastingCable.com . “This exclusive partnership with AccuWeather, a company who has been extremely effective in pursuing digital platform distribution, notably Connected TVs, will help us take our digital weather products to the next level.”
Because of existing partnerships with competitors, the Fox-AccuWeather deal will not include Fox O&Os in New York or L.A. In addition to Orlando’s Fox 35, the other Fox stations taking part in the deal are in Dallas, Atlanta, Washington, Detroit, Phoenix, Tampa, Minneapolis, Memphis, Austin and Gainesville (which is really a satellite of WOFL).
Locally, WFTV had a long-running partnership with AccuWeather years ago (see video below). I believe that Channel 6 (then WCPX) picked up AccuWeather for a short time after WFTV.
Former WKMG morning meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is out at CNN. TVSpy.com reported Wednesday that Wolf and fellow meteorologist Jacqui Jeras were let go.
Wolf joined CNN in 2006, shortly after leaving Local 6. TVSpy.com notes Wolf “specialized in reportage from dramatic weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. He was one of CNN’s most prominent correspondents during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in 2010.”
LuAnne Sorrell will be joining WOFL-Fox 35 as a morning news anchor this summer, her agency – Napoli Management Group — announced. She’s arriving from Miami Fox affiliate WSVN-7, where she is a reporter and weekend anchor. According to her bio, she joined WSVN in 2005 after spending 2-1/2 years at KLAS-CBS 8 in Las Vegas. TVSpy.com says she’s replacing Heidi Hatch, who left Fox 35 a year ago for KUTV-CBS 2 in Salt Lake City. …
Sorrell’s replacement at WSVN in South Florida is a face familiar to Orlando TV news viewers: former WESH reporter/anchor Jeff Lennox. He left the TV biz after departing WESH but ended up at WSVN as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Lennox broke the news about his new gig on his Twitter account last week: “Anchoring weekend mornings now full-time in Miami! Couldn’t be more excited!” …
NewsBlues.com reports that Stephanie Kolp, a reporter WBBH-NBC 2 in Fort Myers, is joining WESH at a reporter. She starts June 21. …
Mark Joyella will join WFTV-Channel 9 as reporter/weekend morning anchor. Joyella previously worked at CNN, WNYW-Fox 5 and WPIX-CW 11 in New York and WPLG-ABC 10 in Miami. NewsBlues says that WFTV News Director Bob Jordan hired Joyella in 1994 when Jordan was running the newsroom at WFTS-ABC 28 in Tampa.