Saturday, February 6, 2016

Did the future Big Ten TV strategy get revealed?

Twitter user Matthew Herek brought this to my attention yesterday afternoon and its fascinating.  Here's the tweet:
And here's the specific part that Matthew is referring to (my emphasis in bold):
Starting in 2017, all the television broadcasts of a Michigan game at home or any time we play a Big Ten team are sold by the Big Ten Network. Now, the Big Ten network doesn’t televise all of them. ESPN will televise, Fox will televise, but in 2017 this contract starts to deliver our content. For example, in 2017 we play Florida in Texas at Jerry Jones Stadium down there, (and) we wouldn’t be able to see that in the future under this agreement. We could still go down there probably if we worked something out. In ’17 you could have NBC a player in both of our camps but we don’t know because the contracts aren’t settled.”
To be clear, Hackett's discussion of the Big Ten and future TV rights was part of a discussion involving getting Notre Dame back on the schedule.  But that part in bold is extremely interesting, because it sounds like a new agreement has already been crafted.  A few things run through my head:

1) Jim Hackett is conflating Big Ten, the conference, with Big Ten Network LLC, the joint partnership between FOX (51%) and the conference (49%) that runs the Big Ten Network.  This is what I would like to believe he's doing.  But that's no fun and it wouldn't allow me to write point #2.

2) The Big Ten Network, through Big Ten Network LLC, is going to either bid on or assume all TV rights going forward, then act as a re-seller to ESPN, ABC, FOX, CBS, whomever wants a game.  Its a fascinating way to go about future rights, because you're essentially auctioning off games or a weekly selection order.  Do you want Ohio St. vs. Michigan?  You'll might need to pay a little extra compared to Rutgers vs. Purdue (no offense intended towards any school).

But this isn't new.  Not by a longshot, if you remember how the ACC's men's basketball rights were administered before ESPN took over all rights to the conference.  Raycom Sports used to be the sole rightsholder for ACC basketball and would then sell games to ESPN, CBS, FOX Sports Net nationally and regionally and kept some games for themselves to syndicate to local stations.  Raycom was also the one that enforced the regional blackout of ESPN, and previously NBC, for some basketball games, including the ACC tournament.  ESPN, in return, I believe got some priority in which games they could buy (notice that neither Duke-UNC game ever ended up on FSN and that FSN couldn't brand itself as FSN for most of its time broadcasting ACC basketball, while ESPN could use its name, mic flags, etc.).

What would be a bit interesting about this is FOX has the majority ownership in the LLC, so would there be a priority towards FOX, FS1 and BTN?

Matthew brought up a second part though, and this might be why they're going this route:
That would be a big (no pun intended) step, but again, if Hackett had diarrhea of the mouth, that would be a gamechanger because the LLC would be the distributor and middle man for all TV.  I'm not sure how copyrights would work for digital vs. TV.  I believe the conference already retains the copyright to their games, which is why you see them on BTN from multiple networks as replays, similar to the SEC retaining copyright for their games and showing replays of games from multiple networks not only on SEC Network, but CBS Sports Network, ESPNU, etc.

The NFL has went the route of retaining digital rights on mobile phones, while including digital rights on tablets and PCs with the TV networks.  Maybe this is where the Big Ten is going with a variation, by selling an over the top product with all of their games, but continuing to sell to TV networks and their associated platforms.  TV networks may not go for that though and probably would offer a diminishing rights fee, since the conference is essentially selling a competing product with the same content.  But if you're all in on the Big Ten, and can "make do" with whatever you get from the broadcast networks, this might be a worthwhile product.  On the other hand, maybe a partner like ESPN or FOX would be willing to do an over the top product provided they were brought in.  Remember that ESPN has provided over-the-top offerings in cricket and are supposed to have the ability to offer them for MLS and the NBA.

But let's see if Hackett was truly talking about the future.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

2016 ACC Schedule Notes

* Why Ireland for the Georgia Tech-Boston College game, particularly since its a BC home game?  Well, the Eagles will have three non-conference home games, so they'll still have six games at Chestnut Hill with one vs. a regional rival (UConn), so for them it sounds like it will make financial sense.  On the TV side of things, this might be the only game that ESPN2 airs that day with the US Open as coverage last year started at 11am ET.  By starting this one at 7:30am ET, it should lead directly into tennis.  And lets be realistic: this is a game between two schools that both finished 3-9 in 2015.  While it is the opening week of the season and it is often littered with FBS vs. FCS games alongside some neutral site ones, it isn't a very desirable game for TV, but its better than nothing.  If this game was on another Saturday and played at Chestnut Hill, is it more or less likely to be on ESPN2 if the teams are both headed towards 3-9 seasons?

Notre Dame vs. Navy and Penn St. at UCF showed that we'll get up at just about any hour to watch college football.  I'll get up, go for a walk, and probably listen to some of it.  You might tune in too if your EPL or Bundesliga club isn't playing either.

* Excluding the day after Thanksgiving and the opening Thursday night, eight Thursday & Friday night games in 2016 were set aside by ESPN, four each on Thursdays and Fridays .  This is up one from 2015.  The Palm Beach Post reports that Florida St. will host their first Friday night game since 1957.

Not counted above was NC State at North Carolina, which will be played the day after Thanksgiving (the ACC TV contract allows one since the additions of Pittsburgh & Syracuse) and the Florida St. vs. Ole Miss game from Orlando on ESPN on Labor Day evening.

* Unless another game is scheduled for Friday, October 14th, do not be surprised if Duke at Louisville and Mississippi St. at BYU are paired together as a doubleheader on ESPN or ESPN2, unless there is a desire to stagger the start times slightly.

* For Thursday night games, Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh is the same evening as California at USC on 10/27 & North Carolina at Duke and Utah at Arizona St. are both scheduled for 11/10.  Not sure if that means FS1 will have the Pac-12 game on either date, but the 10/27 date would fall close to FOX's coverage of the NLCS, which primarily airs on FS1 in 2016.

EDIT: I miscounted the number of days.  On 10/27, FOX should be in its World Series broadcasting window, so FS1 should be open to take on either Pac-12 game.  In 2015, FS1 televised West Virginia at TCU while the World Series was on an off day between games two & three.  Thanks to Twitter follower mjbx101 for the correction.

* Louisville at Syracuse is the same evening as the US Open men's semifinals, so this game may end up on ESPN2 once television network designations are made for it.  ESPN is required to air the singles semifinals and championships of the US Open.

* Besides Syracuse's home opener vs. Colgate, which could be any of three days (the last two home openers for the Orange during Labor Day weekend have been on Fridays), the ACC schedule also noted that Louisville at Houston could be moved from Saturday, November 19th to Thursday, November 17th.  Last season the ACC schedule was released with a similar flexible designation for the Miami (FL) at Cincinnati at game, which ended up being scheduled for a Thursday night once the American Athletic Conference released their 2015 schedule.

EDIT: Colgate at Syracuse was announced as a Friday evening game.

Last year, the American's football schedule appeared about three weeks after the ACC's was released, so it should be coming out fairly soon.

Site Update

I added a page that shows only today's games and it is active for basketball right now.  Shown below are the full and mobile layouts.


Here's the current week for men's basketball and a direct link to this season's daily page so you can see it.

The link will only appear on weeks where today's date is part of week's schedule.  The daily page doesn't really any different than the weekly page, except you won't have to scroll as much.  Choosing a time zone and hiding web exclusives are also on the daily page.  The new page also has a companion text-only page where you can select & print games and you can get back to the weekly schedule from the daily schedule.

The daily page will turn over to the current date at 5am Eastern Time each day.

Also, for those asking, I should have the section for the 2016 Division I college football season loaded in the next week or two.  I mentioned to someone that I would wait for the ACC schedule and it was announced yesterday.  I've loaded my data into the place it needs to be to start the process and I'll post a link when its ready.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Early college football related items for 2016

I've been intentionally avoiding anything to do with the college football season for 2016 until maybe a week ago.  Schedules that were tweeted out weren't being looked at and I wanted to make sure I intended to do a 2016 section before looking over anything.

A few items:

* Per Harry Minium report on C-USA TV rights for the 2016-17 athletic year and future years, C-USA athletic directors will be briefed on TV rights negotiations early next week at their winter meetings in Boca Raton.  I do not know if this briefing will be the ADs receiving a finalized set of deals before a public announcement or just an update.

Either way, don't expect financials from the conference.  Harry & other writers will likely have to pull that information in off the record conversations.  My hope is that the terms (ie. number of games, potential outlets, streaming, etc.) are made relatively clear whenever an announcement is made.

* From past precedent & from some info being provided, here's the conferences I'm expecting to own the TV rights to the following neutral site games:
  • Hawai'i vs. California at Sydney, Australia (8/27/16) - Pac-12
  • Colorado St. vs Colorado in Denver (9/2/16) - Pac-12
  • Oklahoma vs. Houston at NRG Stadium (9/3/16) - American
    • Told that this one will be with the American.  Makes sense since:
      • The game is still in the city of Houston
      • If its declared a Big 12 game, FOX could, in theory, take it.  They have 1st selection rights in 2016 each week.  With that said, Notre Dame is at Texas on 9/3.
      • This also would allow ESPN to take a Big 12 game after Notre Dame at Texas, such as the Missouri at West Virginia game.
  • LSU vs. Wisconsin in Green Bay (9/3/16) - Big Ten
    • Assumption is being made based on the state where the game site is located.  Could be considered an extension of the game in Houston in 2014, which could have been termed as a SEC controlled game.
  • North Carolina vs. Georgia at Atlanta (9/3/16) - SEC
    • Last year's contract had the SEC being granted the rights.
  • USC vs. Alabama (9/3/16) - SEC
    • This one is tricky to me b/c the Pac-12 stance on receiving a cut of media rights for all one-off neutral site games, but its being played in a SEC state.
  • BYU vs. Arizona at Glendale (9/3/16) - Pac-12
  • Florida St. vs. Ole Miss at Orlando, FL (9/5/16) - ACC
    • I'd normally say SEC, but since its being played in Florida and on Labor Day, I believe this will be used to count as the ACC's Labor Day game.
  • Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee at Bristol, TN (9/10/16) - SEC
    • USA Today referenced the term sheet for the game and that the SEC's TV partners will have the rights to the game.
  • BYU vs. West Virginia at Landover, MD (9/24/16) - Big 12
    • The series was signed back in 2010 when WVU was still a member of the Big East.  I may end up FOIA'ing WVU for details on the game.
I left off some obvious ones, like when two schools from the same conference are playing each other, Notre Dame vs. Navy in Jacksonville and Notre Dame's Shamrock Series game vs. Army in San Antonio.

Also, depending on the US Open schedule and what networks are used, some of these games could end up moving to TV partners you would not expect, for example the two SEC games that were sublicensed by ESPN to CBS last year.  It was unclear when asking for clarification from multiple parties last year whether the sublicense of games was a multi year deal or not.

* Massachusetts is an independent in football starting in 2016 and will have two home games vs. Power Five opponents: Boston College on 9/10 & Mississippi St. on 9/24.  When asked whether UMass was working on an agreement for TV rights for their home football games, they responded that they were communicating with television outlets about a rights deal.  No idea who is involved in those discussions, and UMass wasn't likely to provide that information, at least not on the record.

* For the NASCAR Truck Series races that fall during college football season, only the Talladega race has a start time and that one will air on FOX, presumably with postseason MLB to follow it.  The other eight races, starting with the first race in September, will have some effect towards FS1's college football scheduling.  Four of the races are on Friday nights, three are on Saturday and one is on the Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend.

The WeatherTech Sports Car Championship will have the beginning of Petit Le Mans from Road Atlanta on FS1 on 10/1, but only the first hour (11am-noon) before shifting networks.

* FOX's MLB schedule, for the broadcast network and FS1, is partially set.  It appears that the broadcast network will not show MLB games on Saturday 9/3, but may end up with a doubleheader on FS1 as Astros at Rangers is scheduled for the pay TV channel at 4:05pm ET.

A couple broadcast network windows at the end of the season are usually set aside as "best available game" choices and FS1's remaining schedule should be comprised of games where both teams are affiliated with FOX majority owned RSNs (ie. regional elevates).  Once this, along with the NASCAR Truck Series schedule & UFC calendar are finalized, we'll have a better understanding of available time slots for college football.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pac-12 Networks Distribution & brief item on ASN

* I've fielded a lot of complaints from fans of Pac-12 schools living in the Pac-12 footprint regarding changes to how Pac-12 Networks events have been shown starting with the winter sports season, specifically where men's basketball games are only being shown live on the national feed, plus the regional feed(s) of the competing schools.  Austin Meek of the Register-Guard in Eugene, OR posted a column yesterday noting the changes and that football games will come under this programming strategy in the fall along with confusion that fans (still?) have regarding the national feed and the appropriate regional feed.

I say (still?) because its been three and a half years that the networks have been around and I put that on the Pac-12 themselves because if there is confusion about the programming on the networks, they might not be marketing things very well (ya think, Matt?), and a Pac-12 Networks executive admitted to Meek that seven networks "is a confusing model".  And that might be where the decision is being made to make the regional networks solely devoted to the two schools in each region where a regional channel is shown and to try to make it clearer as to where to find, for example, Stanford sports.  That does make sense.

What doesn't quite make sense is that the Pac-12 didn't put a lot of teeth behind how they wanted these channels distributed.  Maybe in their haste to get deals done, maybe in a bit of naivete or hubris about the programming on the channels and how receptive people would be to have the networks, Meek notes what others have mentioned to me: there's no consistency in the placement of the regional and national feeds by provider with respect to programming tiers.  There are also complaints about feed delivery as some might get the regional feed in HD, some might get the national feed in HD.

I look at the SEC Network and BTN, probably the SEC more because they've marketed themselves this way, and they seem to emphasize that the conference is more than a sum of its parts.  When I see that the pay TV provider can choose to emphasize a Pac-12 Networks regional feed over a primary one, I see the Pac-12 failing to be able to show that their conference matters across a six state region, at least in some areas.

In some ways, this isn't a lot different than Arizona & Arizona St. placing games that weren't nationally televised on FOX Sports Arizona, or UCLA & USC on Prime Ticket and FOX Sports West, minus a) the fact that these games weren't streamed but were often shown on FOX College Sports and b) not everyone went through FOX and availability of these non-FOX games out of market were often non-existent, but I thought this was something the conference wanted to get away from and make their games more available to their fans?

Yes, you can stream the national feed and any of the regional feeds if you subscribe to the network in any fashion.  Being that I'm a bit tech savvy and I believe a fair amount of fans are too, I'm not hurt by that too much, but I also have to pay extra to see anything from the Pac-12 Networks as someone outside of those six states.  And five years from now, maybe sooner, this would be more widely accepted.  For example, there might be a Pac-12 app on your receiver to get to the other feeds without using cast to screen devices.  But I think its a valid complaint when there are live events going on and you're stuck with the replay of a "classic" Territorial Cup on TV on the Pac-12 Network feed you subscribe to, for example.

Not the first example of the Pac-12 being yelled at for its TV deals, but whether its ESPN, FOX or the Pac-12 Networks, all they seem to do is throw up their hands and say they can't do much, even the schools.  But I bet the schools never fail to cash the rights fee check or make sure the direct deposit hits the right account.

* Looks like ASN's "national" feed is being allowed to show UCF at Tulsa on Sunday, which is one of their American Athletic Conference games sublicensed from ESPN.  In a previous post I wrote, I was not sure if they were allowed to place those on the national feed since the streaming rights to several events that ASN carries on TV stayed with ESPN to be shown on ESPN3.

It looks like ESPN "may" be sublicensing content to ASN from the Horizon League as well, instead of the Horizon League cutting a deal directly with the conference.  Each HL game on ASN this year has also been streamed on ESPN3 and the Oakland at Milwaukee game on Monday 1/25 will also appear on the national feed.

As for the national feed's distribution, that will depend on Sinclair being able to either buyout or not renew existing formats on some digital subchannels on their own stations and to be able to negotiate for carriage of content on other station group's signals.  I'm unsure if they would be willing to work with existing RSNs to provide backdrop programming or to form a loose coalition of RSNs, a la FOX Sports Regional Networks, to get into additional markets.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Texas, Longhorn Network & "Buyouts"

I follow Frank The Tank on Twitter and he handles a lot of conference realignment & financial questions really well.  Has extreme patience with a lot of it.  Patience that I don't have, or wouldn't have without erasing a tweet two or three times before pressing "Tweet".

So with the Big 12 (and Sun Belt?) getting a victory with respect to the parameters required to hold a conference championship game, two things came out of it:

1) Oklahoma's president spoke.  And continued speaking.  I leave it to your judgement to agree or disagree with him.  Dan Wolken was correct with this assessment:
I've said that in the past too.  Being so publicly negative about things makes you look weak to everybody else.  Here's part of the problem with that: At times, being vocal worked for DeLoss Dodds, the former AD at Texas.  It feels right out of the Texas playbook.

2) The part I intended to write this whole post about - "ESPN just buy out Texas of the Longhorn Network".  I've seen it asked of Frank a couple times and he's politely put it down.  Here are several other things to consider.  I'm going to reference several items from the open records request The Midnight Yell did several years ago:
  • Are you buying out Texas or IMG?  IMG is a party to this network.  Texas sold them the rights to market the content.  In fact, when you look at the license agreement, courtesy of The Midnight Yell, it is clear that IMG is sublicensing Texas's rights to ESPN (see page 3 under Television Rights).
    • Also, if I'm reading this correctly and I may not be, I believe ESPN is covered in the event IMG is no longer Texas's marketing partner.  There's a few sentences in there that ESPN would be granted the rights directly in the event the "Rights Agreement" expires or is terminated and I believe that pertains to IMG, who may not have had a 20 year agreement with Texas.
  • What is the price you are buying out at and what exactly are you buying out?  If I'm Texas or IMG, and there aren't buyout provisions in the contract, my answer is "Not a penny less than what is due over the life of the contract".
    • If ESPN were to sell the operations of the network to someone, or find a buyer to take it off their hands, ESPN has to majority own & manage that "buyer" and Texas gets to approve any equity partners within reason, typically for marketing purposes & not to delay network distribution (page 11 under ESPN Obligations).  So selling it to FOX doesn't seem possible.
  • ESPN is also kinda, sorta paying for the right to negotiate for Texas football & other sports should they ever go independent.  Its a clause in the contract (see page 4 under First Negotiation/First Refusal), so there is value in having that around.  
    • Remember when ESPN sued C-USA over contractual terms regarding this clause?  ESPN attempted to put a value on it in the court documents, so it should probably be considered an asset here.
  • How about bankruptcy?  I don't believe that's an option because ESPN, as the 100% owner of the Longhorn Network, would have to declare bankruptcy.  Or Disney and/or Hearst (?, since they own 20% of ESPN) would.  ESPN2 or ESPNU can't declare bankruptcy.  ESPN can shut it down, but that's not a bankruptcy.
    • To be clear:
      • ESPN owns 100% of the equity in Longhorn Network and its operations
      • Big 12 television contracts allowed the construction of Longhorn Network, SoonerSports.TV, K-StateHD.TV, etc. as they allowed for a package of games to be controlled by each school.
      • Texas receives only a rights fee.  Nothing more.
    • Well, how did CSN Houston declare bankruptcy?  There was a company (LLC?) called Houston Regional Sports Network, run by Comcast (22%), the Astros (46.5%) and Rockets (31.5%).  HRSN was dissolved as part of those bankruptcy proceedings and there was a different corporate structure to CSNH compared to Longhorn Network, or there at least appears to be.
    • The Big Ten Network is set up as an LLC.
  • Let's be clear - Texas is not buying out of this venture.  They're getting paid without having to put up any money of their own.  They have leverage.
  • Further, if there is some form of buyout that goes to Texas, my assumption is that Texas will then be able to go to the open market and re-sell those rights a second time.  So they've been paid per year, then get paid to "go away", then get paid again on the rebound.  There's a real chance that if they're told to "go away" and re-sell those rights, the money is still above Oklahoma's payment from FOX for institutional rights. What does that solve?
  • ESPN still can grow financially, though possibly not at the rates seen in prior years.  They could eventually figure out how to fend off cord cutting and as long as their revenues grow via subscriber fees and aren't completely washed out by people cancelling their pay TV subscriptions, they'll be pulling in money.  Why use that cash up front to buy out these agreements, if the agreements require a full payment (sorry, I didn't read the 51 pages, it could be in there) if that payment to Texas can be lower and made over 20 years, and you get content out of it?
(There is a decent argument to be made about how much ESPN paid in comparison to what others pay Big 12 schools for similar rights, and how much more ESPN paid over the offer FOX allegedly presented to Texas.  That's another story.)

To be clear, lawyers can come together, negotiate and find equitable solutions to just about any written document.  So some of what is written about can surely be overcome with documents that render this one null and void, probably.  Maybe.  But it isn't just a quick and dirty answer to buy them out and send them packing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Notes re: C-USA Rights Update

First, read Harry Minium's piece at PilotOnline.  He did the legwork.  The basis of my thoughts are from his article.
* I assume the reason things need to be nailed down sooner rather than later when it comes to C-USA is due to the release of football schedules.  The last two years the base schedules have been released at the beginning of February.  After that, TV partners start to play with the schedule and requests for any weeknight games are usually done.

* I am slightly surprised to see CBS Sports Network staying with C-USA.   I am curious as to what level of coverage they will be required to provide.  I wrote in January of last year that CBSSN's declining coverage of the conference might mean they are on the way out, plus the sublicense agreements with the American (seven members of C-USA in 2011 when that deal was signed) and the MAC, but it appears they've been convinced to stay around in some fashion.  Men's basketball might be the place where CBS Sports Network can work with C-USA more, provided they stay on the Thursday-Saturday scheduling format.

* Regarding FOX - one of the items cited in the original deal was cross-conference opportunities.  The implication was, in my opinion, with the Big 12, though series with Pac-12, ACC and SEC schools were also in place with the latter two having games on FSN through sublicensing agreements:


During that time, I counted 18 games that FOX aired on to either FSN, F/X or FS1 where a C-USA member hosted a school from one of those four conferences.  That doesn't include Big Ten schools, where FOX has a relationship through BTN.  Other C-USA games from these conferences were also televised by CBS Sports Network and ASN and they had choices.  

In 2011 alone, the following schools visited C-USA schools and had games either on FOX platforms or CBSSN (we can quibble later on how good these programs were):

Mississippi St. (2X)
UCLA
Virginia Tech (2X)
Purdue
Boston College
Oklahoma St.
North Carolina

2012 had a visit from the eventual Heisman winner (Texas A&M at SMU) and the school who was co-champ of the Big 12 (Oklahoma at UTEP), plus visits by Ole Miss, Missouri, UCLA, Rutgers and Louisville.

2015 had the following Power Five visitors: Mississippi St., Purdue, Miami (FL), Kansas St., Vanderbilt, NC State.  And that's over 13 schools in competition compared to 12 in 2011 & 2012.

Looking over 2016 - 2018, as the conference's footprint has spread out, the number of series with Big 12 schools has dropped (going to nine conference games for the Big 12 hurts others in this case) and overall the number of schools willing to travel to C-USA schools, or in some cases the quality of schools, has decreased using FBSchedules.com's listing of future schedules.  To be clear, some of those schools are still working out schedules for those years.  Knowing your TV partner always helps when you need a favor and a Power Five school doesn't want a second FCS school on their schedule.

EDIT: For completeness, here's the Power 5 visitors in 2016 - Indiana at FIU, Maryland at FIU, Louisville at Marshall, Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky, Baylor at Rice, Arizona St. at UTSA.  Same count as 2015.

There's also the school of thought that the goal now is to rack up the wins to get the best available Group of Five conference champion ranking and that doesn't always mean challenging yourself out of conference.

In any case, the drop in the quality of non-conference opponents hurts C-USA.  For example, a Charlotte at North Carolina series may mean nothing to ESPN as the ACC rightsholder, but it may be the highest profile game to a C-USA rightsholder when its UNC playing at Charlotte.

* It is a bit surprising, maybe commendable, that all TV rightsholders continued to pay the full rate in 2015 for the conference they signed up in 2011.  The previous ESPN contract did allow for a prorated decrease if a school was unable to compete in a sport, such as UAB's football withdrawal.  In either case, the composition of the conference changed a lot.  

* I can't envision ASN, if it is to remain a rightsholder, continuing to get events for free.  If C-USA and other conferences were given a trial run with ASN, in my mind, it has to command a rights fee for its content.  

Harry touched on streaming and how cord cutting has affected ESPN, but C-USA hasn't followed into that area with as much success.  At a minimum, C-USA needs to work with all TV partners to figure out streaming or figure out a way where it can own streaming rights to games where the TV partner can't stream into an area (ie. no FSN in an area, lack of FSN programming or lack of streaming through provider).  ASN and CBSSN have regressed in streaming over time with ASN not streaming any basketball games live this year and CBSSN not streaming anything, with the exception of Army and Navy football, since the CSTV days.  This is 2016, not 2011.  

FOX has recently agreed to a deal to with the National Lacrosse League to carry webcasts of 50 games for free with no TV subscription required.  Besides theses events, along with some stream sharing with IMSA for sportscar racing & the USGA for its live events, plus the Big East Digital Network, FOX could be starting to work on a build-out of digital exclusives and a move of the C-USA Digital Network could fit here.