"My report emphasized how risky it was to have so much riding on a single source of revenue," Peligian said in a recent interview.
Connecticut Public Broadcasting Inc. "development expenses," including membership/pledge drives and corporate underwriting, totalled 20.9 percent of its spending budget in the 2010 fiscal year – up from about 16 percent back in 2004.
At last count, according to the station's website, CPTV was averaging about 450,000 viewers per week. (WNPR, the broadcast unit's radio arm was bringing in an estimated 240,000 listeners each week.)
What happens next, without the UConn women's games, is anything but clear.
Station officials like Sisco don't try to downplay the loss of the UConn franchise. "We recognize this move with UConn will have an impact," she says.
Rifkin and Peligian agree that it's likely to take at least a year before anyone knows for sure what's going to happen to CPTV viewership and fundraising. Rifkin says there's likely to be a temporary wave of viewer sympathy and residual financial support for CPTV.
"I don't think the greatest impact will take place this year," Rifkin says. "I think it will be in the trail years."
Crunch time will come when those basketball fans drift away to SNY and don't come back; and when the corporate sponsors move their money along to some other, more popular venue.
"That is a possibility that we've discussed," Sisco says of future viewer and contribution losses, "but it's really hard to predict." She and other CPTV folks are hoping real hard that they can find a way to keep at least a portion of those UConn basketball fans. Others aren't so optimistic.
"You're talking about taking away a mainstay of this public television station," Rifkin says sadly.
"It drew in the highest audiences, the most pledges, and it extended across generations," says Hanley.
Hanley's conclusion is grim: "I do think it will dramatically — if not radically — change the organization."
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