Knoxville - The University of Tennessee has joined Host Communications in announcing Knoxville’s CBS affiliate, WVLT VOLUNTEER TV, as the official East Tennessee TV outlet for the Vol Network. Effective for the upcoming 2007-08 season, WVLT becomes the new Vol Network flagship television station for University of Tennessee sports. The designation brings with it rights to carry Tennessee’s signature programming including: “The Phillip Fulmer Show”, “The Bruce Pearl Show”, plus “The Pat Summitt Show.” In addition, a number of other HOST/UT programming initiatives will be seen by VOLUNTEER TV viewers including select live basketball games along with pre-season specials.
WVLT VOLUNTEER TV, a CBS affiliate, has already been carrying more hours of UT Sports Programming than any other television station in the state for several years via “The SEC on CBS” and the stations designation as Knoxville’s affiliate for Lincoln Financial Sports Productions. WVLT VOLUNTEER TV Executive Vice President and General Manager Chris Baker said, “We really see this ten year contract as affirmation of what we have been to East Tennessee for the past several years and that is the area’s #1 television source for all that’s Vol.” Added Baker, “It is truly the crown jewel of our sports schedule and is now at the heart of what we had in mind when we named our station WVLT VOLUNTEER TV. We are pleased to make it official that WVLT’s Got UT.”
Mike Hamilton, Director of UT Men’s Athletics expressed his excitement about the new partnership stating, “The University of Tennessee is proud to have WVLT and MyVLT2 as our new homes for Vol Network Programming. The benefits to our viewers will be many. We could not ask for a better partner to help us grow our exposure.” Hamilton continued, “We have a history of providing high-end television programming that is seen on quality television stations. With WVLT, we are ready to take the next step in providing unbeatable, in-depth coverage to Tennessee fans. Like our many supporters, WVLT possesses an unquenchable thirst for Big Orange sports. You can’t ask for anything more than that from a TV partner.”
Joan Cronan, Director of Women’s Athletics for UT added, “Providing key coverage of both men’s and women’s sports is nothing new to WVLT VOLUNTEER TV. What they will be able to contribute with regard to live and syndicated UT programming is certainly new and should be warmly received by East Tennessee viewers.” Cronan went onto proclaim that, “It is exciting to have WVLT become our official station in our home market. This is a big responsibility. But, their track record indicates they are up to the challenge of promoting the University like no one else.”
Steve Early, Vice President and General Manager of Host Communications/Vol Network agreed with Hamilton and Cronan adding, “This is a monumental move for the Vol Network. Never before has Tennessee entered into a more encompassing partnership with a flagship television station. From the number of showings our programs will receive, to the promotional efforts, to corporate partner support; it is evident that WVLT is redefining the role of a TV partner.” Early went on stating, “The enthusiasm and dedication that WVLT is bringing to University of Tennessee Sports is unprecedented. The University of Tennessee has enjoyed terrific coverage from our flagship affiliates, but this new partnership with WVLT encompasses far more opportunities to bring the Big Orange into viewer’s living rooms. Early concluded by saying, “This is a first of a kind partnership with a direct benefit to the Tennessee fan.”
The move to WVLT marks the first new affiliation for UT Television rights, in Knoxville, in 16 years. Both Hamilton and Early acknowledged the relationship with former flagship WBIR was “first class” throughout the contract term. Early added that “going forward the promotional efforts that WVLT is willing to contribute and the value of their digital sister station creates an unprecedented opportunity to increase exposure of UT Athletics. All of our signature shows will now enjoy multiple airings in the Knoxville market and we see that as exciting news for both our viewers and our sponsors.”
WVLT-TV and MyVLT2 are owned by Gray Television, Inc. Gray Television, Inc. is a television broadcast company headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Gray currently operates 36 television stations serving 30 markets. Each of the stations are affiliated with either CBS (17 stations), NBC (10 stations), ABC (8 stations) or FOX (1 station). In addition, Gray currently operates 36 digital second channels including 1 ABC, 5 Fox, 7 CW and 15 MyNetworkTV affiliates plus 6 local news/weather channels and 2 "independent" channels in certain of its existing markets. Gray intends to start an additional 4 digital second channels during 2007 including 1 CW affiliate, 1 MyNetworkTV affiliate and 2 local news/weather channels.