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Fox Sports Thunders With New NBA Rights Deal

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Fox Sports Networks have reached a multiyear TV rights agreement for the National Basketball Association club.

Moreover, Fox Sports Southwest, which has been carried on basic cable by Cox on channel 37 in the Oklahoma City DMA, will be relaunched as Fox Sports Oklahoma to coincide with the first season of the Thunder, formerly the Seattle Sonics, whose games were previously telecast by Liberty Media’s FSN Northwest in Oklahoma City.

Under the deal, terms of which were not disclosed, Fox Sports Oklahoma will televise 65 of the team’s games during the 2008-09 season. Fox Sports Oklahoma will reach more than 1 million cable and satellite television homes throughout every TV market in Oklahoma, according to network officials.

The balance of the contests will air on still-to-be-named local broadcast partner.

More than half of the Thunder games on Fox Sports Oklahoma will be distributed in the high-definition format during the upcoming season, with additional HD broadcasts scheduled for the following season. For the Thunder broadcasts, Brian Davis is the play-by-play announcer and 14-year NBA veteran player Grant Long serves as Thunder analyst.

The renaming of the network, according to Fox officials, will more closely reflect the interests of the Oklahoma market and is a move to strengthen its connection with local sports fans.  To further emphasize the new TV partnership with Fox Sports, game broadcasts will be branded “FS Thunder” via the on-screen graphics.

“This is an exciting time for Oklahoma sports fans and we’re thrilled to be on the ground floor as the Thunder’s new television partner,” Fox Sports Southwest senior vice president/general manager Jon Heidtke. “We look forward to showcasing their games and helping to grow the team’s fan base throughout the state. We’re committed to building Fox Sports Oklahoma into the premier destination for local sports programming.”