Frontier Communications is launching Vantage Sports Network (VSN-CT), an all-local channel dedicated to bringing viewers year-round coverage of Connecticut’s high school, collegiate and youth sports.
The channel is scheduled to officially launch on Sept. 12 and will initially broadcast from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m., according to Noah Finz, former WTNH television sports director and owner of Finz Creative Programming. In addition to creating and developing content for the channel, Finz will serve as what Paul Quick, senior vice president and general manager for Frontier in Connecticut, calls “the face of the channel.”
“I began informal meetings with Frontier last year,” said Finz. “My pitch was basically, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do local programming?’ and it took off from there.
“This is what I like doing most,” he added. “I’ve always had a great passion for local sports.”
In addition to providing statewide local sports coverage, Finz will be partnering with the established HAN Network to provide comprehensive high school sports coverage in Fairfield County and host the live half-hour “Connecticut Sports Now” recap and highlights show Mondays through Fridays. “I’ll also have an interview show, and am in charge of running it, programming the content … I’ll be wearing a lot of hats.”
VSN-CT will be exclusive to Frontier’s Vantage TV customers on Channels 600 and 1600 HD. With football season approaching, VSN-CT has coverage of several local games planned, including ones in Norwalk, Fairfield, Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury. In addition to live coverage, many games will be taped for later and for repeated broadcast, Finz said.
“We’ll be rotating schools around the state to make sure everyone can see their kids or their friends’ and neighbors’ kids play,” he added.
Frontier and VSN-CT have also partnered with Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, which will serve as the official home of the VSN-CT studio and provide college students opportunities to gain experience in the broadcast and sports industries with an eye towards building careers; open auditions were held on Aug. 25.
“We took the time to listen to our customers and employees about things they like that are not otherwise broadcast in the state,” said Quick from Frontier’s Norwalk headquarters. “There is no other station in Connecticut that offers coverage of local high school and college sports, or that talks about them the way we will.
“There are 169 towns and cities in Connecticut, each with their own unique sports scene,” he added. As such, VSN-CT will broadcast not just football, basketball and baseball but also field hockey, volleyball and even robotics competitions, Quick said. “We want to appeal to fans of all sports and competitions.”
This will be Frontier’s first local scholastic sports network; depending on results, Quick said the company could use it as a model for the other markets it serves, which includes 28 other states.
“The local news model has been changing so much over the past several years,” said Finz, who exited WTNH after 19 years in 2015. “For them to cover local things the way people would like to see them covered has become almost impossible, since what used to pull in revenue and advertisers doesn’t do so anymore.”
Broadcast news channels abandoning in-depth coverage of local sports “opened it up for us to cover it the way it should be,” he added. “You see channels like News 12 Connecticut and New York 1 having success with their approach to local markets, and that’s the kind of thing we’re aiming for.”
According to Kira Howell, senior vice president for marketing for Frontier’s East Region (Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio), “Frontier is aligned and proud to partner in Connecticut with UConn Athletics, Mohegan Sun and the Connecticut Sun, Webster Bank Arena and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, The CT Open, the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils and Connecticut Special Olympics Unified Games and we look forward to showcasing our partners and athletics on VSN-CT.”