Buckeye's Hyper-Local Sports: A Winning Play

Like many larger MSOs, Buckeye Broadband is in the regional sports business. But it’s not the sort of costly, pro-sports-focused RSN operated by big MSOs such as Comcast or Charter Communications.

BCSN, the RSN launched by Buckeye in 2004, is a hyper-local channel focusing on smaller-scale events like minor-league hockey games, local college and high-school contests and even little league games.

The model was so successful in the Toledo and Sandusky, Ohio, systems that Buckeye launched a similar, hyper-local sports channel in the MaxxSouth systems it acquired from Harron Communications in 2014. MaxxSouth, operated separately from Buckeye Broadband, serves about 50,000 customers in 60 rural Mississippi communities.

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BCSN and MaxxSouth Sports do more than just cover games. The Ohio network has partnered with WTVG-TV in Toledo to produce a half-hour nightly sports show that goes beyond game recaps.

Through WTGV, BCSN also delivers a weekly four-hour football program covering all the local high-school action, as well as a three-hour high-school basketball recap during hoops season. Ohio law forbids live high-school football telecasts, but BCSN’s four roving studio trucks visit each game and gather news, tidbits and features on what’s happening, BCSN general manager Marc Jaromin said.

BCSN’s four production trucks often cover multiple events in a single day. “We are efficient,” Jaromin said. “We can roll in an hour-and-a-half before an event and break down within a half hour after an event.

“Recently, we covered the same event as ESPN. They had 33 people doing the same job at the same level of performance as we did with seven people.”

BCSN recently covered and sponsored a charity boxing event to fight Parkinson’s disease in Toledo. The network didn’t just cover the seven fights on the card — it also produced a half-hour pre-show spotlighting athletes affected by Parkinson’s, and taped local health officials talking about the disease for use in interstitials.

“Anyone can offer up a box score,” Jaromin said. “But telling the news behind the score is what makes BCSN different and relevant with viewers. Bottom line, we want to deliver to the community what the community wants to see.”

Buckeye also plans to launch a new arts channel along the lines of BCSN. BCSN Arts, located next to BCSN on the dial on a former local-origination channel, will soft-launch this fall and formally kick of in January, Jaromin said.

BCSN Arts will televise content developed by local high school students and help them with their projects as well. And it will televise shows featuring students preparing for school plays, choir concerts, dance recitals and band performances.

“This is just another way for us to connect to our customers and our community,” Jaromin said. “I think it will be very successful and as popular as BCSN.”