Free TV Sports Sighted In A Weird Market

Screen shot of a basketball game

University of Kansas basketball, as seen on KMCI TV

Thanksgiving Weekend often means travel time at FreeTVBlog World Headquarters, and this time the trip was to Kansas City MO to see relatives. An application of my mobile TV scanner revealed something I hadn’t noticed before: there are live sports available on independent over-the-air stations in KC.

There is nothing remarkable in a local affiliate simply carrying nationally broadcast sports, so I don’t get excited about games on the major networks or Stadium, the diginet formerly known as American Sports Network. Besides those outlets, there were two independent stations with regional sporting events over at least the couple of weeks after Thanksgiving. KMCI had games from Missouri State, Missouri-Kansas City, and the University of Kansas (twice). KSMO (technically a My Network affiliate) had another Missouri-Kansas City game plus part of its season-long coverage of the Kansas City Mavericks minor-league hockey team.

I think that Kansas City’s unusual situation has helped create this OTA opportunity. It’s not its size; Kansas City is the number 33 TV market, below Raleigh NC and Indianapolis, for example. Yet neither Raleigh nor Indianapolis have any non-network college basketball scheduled for the next couple of weeks.

My guess is that the answer is either its geography or its pay-TV regional sports network. Since the Kansas City market is split between Missouri and Kansas, it has twice as many schools to show. And Kansas City’s feed of Fox Sports Midwest gives them a lot of St. Louis Blues and Oklahoma City Thunder, neither of which is a big draw in KC.

For whatever reason, I’m thankful that there is another place where everyone with an antenna can watch the type of occasional local sports that I grew up with. It would be great if more stations could follow its example.