The Norwalk-based telecommunications company will debut its Vantage Sports Network from Frontier Communications on Sept. 12. Finz, who left WTNH at the end of 2015 after 19 years, will be the new network’s marquee on-air talent and will run its day-to-day operations through his production company.
Neither Finz nor Paul Quick, a senior vice president for Frontier and general manager of its Connecticut operations, were willing to comment on the financial details of launching the network. They also did not comment on how many workers the new network will have.
“I can tell you that we’re not doing this on the cheap,” Quick said Tuesday. This is Frontier Communications’ first foray into developing a local scholastic sports network. The company provides telecommunications, Internet service and cable television in Connecticut and 28 other states.
The Vantage Sports Network will air daily programming from 6 a.m to 1 a.m. initially, Finz said, with the bulk of it being taped broadcasts of a variety of sporting events. The centerpiece will be a nightly sportscast of between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on the amount of games on a given day, he said.
“It’s a wrap-up show that will address the day’s events,” Finz said.
The network will air some live coverage of events each week, he said. It will also offer taped event coverage provided by colleges and universities around the state.
Commercial television stations are no longer able to justify broad-based coverage of scholastic sports, particularly the less popular ones, because advertising dollars have become so fragmented, according to Finz. Vantage Sports Network will seek advertisers, Finz said, but that aspect is being handled by Frontier.
“I’m impressed with their support of this,” Finz said of Frontier. “They understand it’s important because if it bombs, it reflects badly on them.”
The live studio show will be produced from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, he said.
Liz Grey Godbout, a company spokeswoman, said the launch of the scholastic sports network is “another example of how well connected we are to the people that we serve.”
Quick said Vantage Sports Network “is going to about more than football and basketball coverage.”
“We’re even thinking about airing robotics competitions, even though it’s technically not a sport,” he said “There’s a lot of good that comes out of sports.”
Although the scholastic sports network will be a new venture for Frontier Communications, the state already has another source for scholastic sports. CPTV Sports, part of Connecticut Public Broadcasting, has offered around-the-clock programming of scholastic athletic events since 2010. Officials with CPTV Sports were not available for comment Tuesday regarding the Frontier Communications venture.
To promote the launch of Vantage Sports Network, Frontier is holding a casting call later this week to select students athletes who will appear in advertising and promotion of the new venture, Godbout said.
Interested student athletes should come to Dsign Digital Studios in Glastonbury Thursday or Friday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Athletes should come dressed in their uniforms and bring some of their equipment to illustrate what sport they play.
Rich Hanley, associate professor of journalism and director of the graduate program in journalism at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, said the launch of the scholastic sports network by Frontier is “part of a broad strategy to build a connection between the company and its customers.”
“Scholastic sports are the pride of a lot of communities,” Hanley said. “It’s about developing a local connection with Mom, Dad, kids and school alumni who will be watching these games. And it won’t hurt that Frontier will probably have its logo at a lot of high school sporting events.”
Vantage Sports Network will be on Channel 600 for Frontier’s Vantage cable television package and will offer the programming in high definition on Channel 1600.