Friday, June 1, 2018

2018 CFB Early Season Selections Notes

The early season and special date TV assignments have occurred for most college football games for 2018. 

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

These are the takeaways I had by network group, conference and/or school:

American

* TV assignments were left off Georgia Tech at USF and South Carolina St. at UCF on 9/8.  Coincidentally, Arizona at Houston doesn't have a reverse mirror partner at 12pm.  It would be a bit weird to have two games from the same conference in the reverse mirror.  I don't think it was a classic reverse mirror scenario, but on 9/22/07 Penn St. at Michigan aired on ABC in nearly all markets except those in Ohio and Chicago, IL where Northwestern at Ohio St. aired on ABC instead, with the game not airing on ABC airing on ESPN2.

I would assume Georgia Tech at USF is the one being looked at for a reverse mirror.  I don't know if there's an issue regarding the noon start in Tampa, or if the conference is requesting clarification as to the number of TV windows this counts for ABC if it is reverse mirrored instead of one game nationally on ABC.  This is one case where the conference's sprawl works against it because there is a natural east-west split with programming Arizona-Houston out west and Georgia Tech-USF in the east.

* I have 15 16 (addition of Georgia Tech at USF) game windows set aside for ABC & ESPN Networks with a minimum of 28 across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.  13 14 confirmed games and two windows on Black Friday.

* Speaking of Black Friday, CBS Sports Network's release has no game listed for their 3:30pm window that day.  ESPN's release, however, calls out UCF at USF and Houston at Memphis as being on their networks.  With ESPN being the conference's primary rightsholder, it would seem that East Carolina at Cincinnati belongs to CBS Sports Network.

Big 12

* Based on the games not listed in the Big 12's release, the member retained games are:
  • Abilene Christian at Baylor
  • South Dakota St. at Iowa St.
  • Nicholls at Kansas
  • South Dakota at Kansas St.
  • Army at Oklahoma
  • South Alabama at Oklahoma St.
  • Tulsa at Texas
  • Southern at TCU
  • Lamar at Texas Tech
  • Youngstown St. at West Virginia
All except the Army at Oklahoma game have been set for TV as that game is outside the first three weeks of the season.  There are situations where national broadcasters, specifically FOX Sports, can air the member retained game on FS1 or FOX as they aired Tulsa at Oklahoma St. last year on FS1.  That game was unique as it was the Cowboys only non-conference home game.

* Texas Tech was assigned as the home team for the Texas Kickoff game, so I've assigned the Big 12 as the TV rightsholder.  I think this game would count towards ESPN's 23 Big 12 games & will keep count of that through the season.

* After subtracting out the 23 games for ESPN and 10 member retained games, I have a count of 35 Big 12 games available to FOX Sports across their platforms.

* As previously mentioned, its a bit rare for two Big 12 games to air nationally on separate networks at the same time (Ohio St. vs. TCU & USC at Texas), but it isn't unheard of.


* My impression was that ESPN and FOX Sports were the only folks that would end up airing Friday night Big Ten games.  Will need to check as to whether the conference and/or Michigan St. had to approve the Utah St. game airing on BTN.

* After the opening weekend, FOX Sports took the remaining weeknight games.

* Using Rutgers at Ohio St. for an early way to clear OSU's BTN intraconference game commitment was a good idea.  If the Tulane game on 9/22 ends up being the Buckeyes 2nd BTN game, they wouldn't be required to appear on the network for the rest of the season.

* The FOX Sports release (linked in the FOX Sports area) touts 136 games across FOX, FSN, FS1 and BTN. After subtracting out bowl games, conference championships and other conferences, 71 regular season games are available to FOX, FS1 and BTN.  This lines up with the 99 Big Ten controlled games and subtracting off the conference championship game and 27 games for ABC & ESPN Networks.


* The network decision for California at BYU could dictate the remaining network choices for the three remaining October & November games.  If ESPNU is chosen, two of the remaining three games would have to air on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.  If ESPN2 is chosen, one more game could be on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2.  Another could air on ESPNU and ESPN could end up taking the third or allowing BYUtv to produce it.


* Based on concurrent SEC games airing at 3:30pm from ESPN and CBS, along with confirmation from someone involved at one of the three entities, West Virginia vs. Tennessee and Georgia at South Carolina were sublicensed from ESPN.  I don't know what the selection process was for these games and if CBS chosen either of them before any ESPN selections.  I do know that these appearances, from a prior Twitter exchange with SEC media contact Chuck Dunlap, are not supposed to count as a CBS appearance for the SEC schools.

* I do not know why CBS has a game window on Black Friday and hasn't placed a game to the window.  Spoke with Dean from DawgPost last night and he pointed out an issue with moving one of the ACC rivalry games to Black Friday and that is if the ACC school agrees to moving their next game in the rivalry to Friday the next season, CBS doesn't have access to it.  Typically these games have been SEC intraconference games done on a two year basis so that each school hosts on a Friday.


EDIT: C-USA released their TV schedule on 6/7, after the original publication of this post.  This portion was updated after that schedule was released.

* CBS Sports Network clearly looks like they have the ability to get the best games if they want them.  They did get a nice pair of games on 9/22 involving ACC opponents, and two of their three Facebook produced games will be non-conference games.

* ESPN's digital schedule seems to follow a pattern similar to other conferences placing games on ESPN3 and ESPN+:
  • One ESPN3 game per week, a digital "game of the week"
  • The rest of the games behind the ESPN+ subscription service, almost as a replacement for the pay service that the conference previously ran, CUSA.TV.
* Most of the CBSSN, beIN Sports & Stadium linear TV schedules seem to have a pattern of trying not to overlap each other.  beIN Sports televises at 7:30pm ET on a consistent basis and Stadium tends not to be airing concurrent games, though the three FAU home games they selected are waiting for their start times to be finalized.  When adding in the CBSSN schedule, which has four weeknight games of the nine linear TV games, only three overlap scenarios exist at the moment:
  • 9/1: Indiana at FIU (7pm, CBSSN) & SMU at North Texas (7:30pm, Stadium)
  • 9/29: Marshall at Western Kentucky (7:30pm, Stadium) & Louisiana Tech at North Texas (7:30pm, beIN Sports)
  • 11/3: FAU at FIU (7:30pm, Stadium) & UTSA at UAB (7:30pm, beIN Sports)
* Somebody was going to be playing during increasing temperatures on 9/1.  Looks like Houston & Rice lost out.  Suppose its a bit interesting that the two Houston area schools are playing at the same time as two Power Five schools play at NRG Stadium.


* The Sun Belt, C-USA and MAC appear to be the early adopters for ESPN+ at the FBS level.  Looks like 1-2 games from each conference per week will air on ESPN3 with the remaining games on ESPN+.  Plenty of FCS games will be shifted there as the Ivy League has already moved their digital network over there.

* Similar to my comment on FOX providing some dogs for week one, the same holds true for Austin Peay at Georgia.  Here I understand because Georgia should be highly ranked and many folks will be watching Washington vs. Auburn instead.

* Selections remaining for specific conferences:
  • Big 12: 16
    • Excludes Big 12 Championship
  • Big Ten: 17
  • Pac-12: 14

* Missouri St. at Oklahoma St. is a curious, and underwhelming, choice to start the FS1 schedule.  There's no other way around that.  Same with the first FOX primetime game with Akron at Nebraska.  I suppose I can excuse the latter because it is going up against Michigan at Notre Dame & Louisville at Alabama.

* FOX didn't publish a list of open windows in their press release for the entire season.  Maybe that's coming later or maybe not and we'll learn of them a few weeks in advance.  They could be also trying to figure out their remaining UFC commitments for 2018 and their MLB postseason commitments, hoping to not tie themselves to a date or time for some of their TV windows.

* Speaking of those UFC commitments, when I look at the first three weeks, I didn't see a spot for pay-per-view prelims for a September event.  Per MMAFighting, its possible the UFC event will be on a Sunday, which would be the opening Sunday of the NFL season.

* It also appears that one of FS1's MLB windows is moving.  The 9/15 scheduled game of Twins at Royals is now being overlapped by Fresno St. at Minnesota.  Not a new thing though.  Last year, FS1 scheduled a window on 9/23 (occupied by Oklahoma at Baylor) that was originally scheduled to be a Twins at Tigers game.  The MLB game instead aired on Thursday from the same series.  FOX could do the same thing here, though they would have to move an ARCA race from FS1 to FS2.

* We know the sale of the FOX RSNs to Disney is in flight and that Comcast has supposedly made a competing offer.  Either way, FOX appears to be working under the assumption they'll be operating these networks through at least the fall.

* That large space between games on Black Friday on FOX I believe is to carry the 3rd place & championship games from the Las Vegas Invitational, involving Michigan St., UCLA, Texas and North Carolina.

* Selections remaining for specific conferences:
  • Big 12: 24
  • Big Ten: 13-16
    • Variable count
  • Pac-12: 13
Big 12 and Pac-12 counts exclude their respective conference championships.

* My overall accounting for FOX Sports using the number of 136 games they counted across FOX, FS1, FSN and BTN:

  • 2 bowl games
  • 2 conference championship games
  • 4 Big 12 member retained games on FSN
  • 22 Pac-12 games
  • 35 Big 12 games
  • 71 Big Ten games
    • 24-27 for FOX & FS1
    • 44-47 for BTN

Ivy League

* Each Ivy League school gets an appearance through the Friday night games on ESPNU.  TV network for Yale vs. Harvard should be decided through the 12 day selection process.  If only they had a network with business programming to show the game...

(CNBC aired the game the past few years if you didn't get the comment)

MAC

* CBS Sports Network has eight in-season selection windows.  Four consecutive Saturdays in late September & early October and one the last Saturday of October, two Thursdays and one on Black Friday.

* Games involving a pair of Power 5 opponents on 9/8 ended up on ESPN+ (Kansas at Central Michigan & Maryland at Bowling Green).  Not needle moving games, but the games on ESPN3 seem to not be the strongest offerings from the conference either.

Mountain West

* If Connecticut at Boise St. airs on ESPN2, that would lock in Boise St.'s requirement for three appearances on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

Pac-12

* The flow of the doubleheader of Cincinnati at UCLA & BYU at Arizona is interesting.  Arizona QB Khalil Tate is in the top five in at least one betting market's odds for the 2018 Heisman.  On the other hand, this is Chip Kelly's first game at UCLA.  If Arizona's desire for night games in September didn't exist, I'd consider flipping these.

* As Dennis Dodd reported earlier, FOX Business Network will now be used for a Pac-12 overflow in case FS1 has other events.  First test might be Colorado at Arizona on 11/2 when a NASCAR truck series race airs prior to the game.

* You'll likely need online access to view New Hampshire at Oregon & Idaho St. at California on 9/15 unless you have the ability to view those specific regional feeds of Pac-12 Networks.  Conversely, you might have to subscribe to a higher tier if you live in Oregon & California to view those games on TV as Comcast has flipped the Pac-12 Networks main feed to more widely viewed tiers and the regionally focused tiers elsewhere.

* Utah does have a pair of 8pm MT / 10pm ET home starts where the preceding game probably won't be done by the time the Utah game window starts: 9/15 vs. Washington & 10/12 vs. Arizona.  This is why I'm led to believe that the conference has more of a hard rule or agreement with TV partners to not start TV windows after 8pm local time.

SEC

* The potential exists for three games vs. FCS opponents to air on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU over the first three weeks.  Not a fan of this, but people will watch their team.

* I can understand if ESPN wanted to keep Clemson at Texas A&M for themselves.  The storyline of Dabo vs. Jimbo & his new school is appealing.  CBS can't take Georgia every week and they've already locked them into one appearance vs. Florida.

Sun Belt

* Much like the MAC, the Sun Belt games on ESPN3 aren't necessarily the most competitive games.  ESPN+ will have several that will have more interest regionally.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Changes to College Sports Scheduling for ESPN & FS1 with Move of UFC?

Quickly tossing this one out as ESPN finalized a UFC TV contract, apparently replacing FOX Sports as a TV partner per the Hollywood Reporter.

* FS1 had plenty of live UFC content during college football & basketball seasons.  I don't know what 2018 will look like yet since it seems like the UFC fall schedule is being finalized.  Here's a quick view of 2017 & 2016 for college football season alone:


If FOX Sports isn't going after another college sports conference, maybe they would look to start their Pac-12 games a bit earlier where possible.  After UFC, I believe the NHL is the next pro sport to potentially be available after the 2020-21 season.

FS2 felt a de facto UFC replay channel, so it would need something new.  Maybe more college sports with some from the content staying behind if the sale of their regional sports networks goes through.  Maybe something else is coming that we don't know about.  FOX reportedly is adding Smackdown, but that would be for the broadcast network on Friday nights.   Archival WWE items come to mind but the WWE Network would seem to be the home for that.

* ESPN picking up 15 fight cards & PPV prelims, assuming this is what they got from THR's reporting, doesn't necessarily mean they'll be concentrated during college football & basketball season.  They aired one Top Rank card on a Saturday during college football season on 11/11/17.

At the risk of being way off on how this deal is structured & executed, does this affect any late evening college football or basketball?  Would there be more ESPN+ cards from September through March to reduce potential conflicts?  The Mountain West will be on the market soon & previously they made noise about their distaste for some of those later evening starts.  From several reports, BYU wants to remain with ESPN & prefers that relationship.  The Pac-12 should be unaffected as their media rights deals run through the 2023-24 athletic year.

As a side note, I'd be interested to see if there's any cross promotion between ESPN's Top Rank boxing cards and UFC.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

CFB TV Roundup from the ACC, ESPN and FOX Sports

* ESPN announced the first three weeks for ABC's Saturday Night Football today.  Some observations:
  • On paper, where matchups go to be proven wrong at times, Alabama-Louisville would look to be a mismatch, but ABC often only gets one chance a season to show Alabama & typically it is in these neutral site games.  Michigan at Notre Dame is also that evening & it could siphon off viewers if it is close.  We also don't know what other plans ESPN has for other games they have access to, such as Washington vs. Auburn.
  • Penn St. at Pittsburgh was given away as a night game by the Pirates when they moved the start time of their game on 9/8 from the evening to the afternoon.  From there, it was a matter of whether it was going to air on ABC or ESPN, but with some solid SEC options available for ESPN to work with, ABC was the place for the game.
  • The choice of Ohio St. vs. TCU for ABC on 9/15 is interesting from a few points, none of which I have the answer to, but should become clearer by the end of May:
    • Did ESPN choose this over USC vs. Texas?  FOX Sports announced at their advertising upfront on 5/14 that they would be carrying Oklahoma vs. Texas (keep reading for info on that), so was this the first choice of weeks by ESPN where they would pick first?
    • Did ESPN manage to get the top two Big 12 choices on 9/15, meaning they could air USC vs. Texas on ABC leading into this one, or on ESPN?  This isn't unheard of.  One could look at 9/8/17, where ABC had a tripleheader of Big Ten games, including both Pittsburgh at Penn St. & Oklahoma at Ohio St., though FOX had some limitations in their programming schedule with FS1 taken up most of the day by the Walker Cup and MLB in the early afternoon.
    • If FOX has USC vs. Texas, and it was not mentioned at the advertising upfront, will they air it as a competing night game?  As mentioned by Burke Magnus of ESPN in his appearance w/me on SportsTVRatings podcast, both ESPN and FOX Sports try to keep from showing games from the same conference on ABC & FOX when possible. The last time this occurred with the Big 12 was late 2015.  In non-conference play, the last time was early 2014.
* FOX Sports did announce three specific matchups that would be part of their schedule at their advertising upfront:
  • Michigan at Ohio St. (11/24)
  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (10/6)
  • Michigan at Michigan St. (10/20)
None of the games are a real surprise.  FOX Sports has the top choice of weeks to pick first from both the Big 12, which rotates between ESPN and them, and the Big Ten, which FOX Sports has for the duration of the rights agreement.  The slotting of the last two games will be worth watching.  When they last had access to Oklahoma vs. Texas, they chose to air it on FS1 and use it as a lead-in to their NLDS coverage...which was promptly rained out.  Either way, it ended up being a highly rated game and ESPN followed suit last year, airing it on pay TV instead of ABC.

As for Michigan at Michigan St., using the scheduling pattern of the 2014 & 2016 MLB postseason, the potential for a Saturday NLCS Game Six has to be accounted for and the game time is flexible based on whether there is a ALCS Game Seven or not.  Using FOX's strategy to give ALCS Game Seven in 2017 as little potential internal competition as possible with TCU vs. Kansas as the FOX night game, it would not surprise me to see FOX or FS1 air this intrastate matchup at noon.

* The first three weeks, plus nearly all non-Saturday games, of ACC controlled games had their time & TV assignments set on Friday.  Some items of note:
  • Samford at Florida St. being at night on ACC Network on 9/8 is the same as the original plans for FSU's game vs. UL Monroe last year.  As someone mentioned to me last year, FSU requested any early season ACC Network games to air at night.
  • The Braves are scheduled to play on FOX Sports South on 9/15 at night vs. Washington.  I would assume that the WKU-Louisville game being distributed to ACC RSNs will air on FOX Sports Southeast in many of those overlapping areas.  I believe a lot of Kentucky is served by FOX Sports Ohio.
  • For a few of the Friday night games, there looks to be potential for doubleheaders based on a few 7pm start times:
    • On 10/5, the Georgia Tech at Louisville game appears to be set to lead into Utah St. at BYU.
    • On 10/26, Miami (FL) at Boston College appears to be positioned to lead into Utah at UCLA.
    • Conversely, the 7:30pm start of Pittsburgh at Virginia on 11/2 leads me to believe the Colorado at Arizona game ends up with Pac-12 Networks or FS1, unless Arizona is cool with a 8pm local start on a Friday (they might be).  FS1 does have a NASCAR Truck Series race that evening, but Dennis Dodd reports that if there is a need for an overflow channel, FOX Business Channel will get the nod instead of FS2.

      To that point, there was a report from Sports Business Journal that FS1 could get a Thursday night NFL game or two in the event of a World Series conflict because of weather.  If that happens, and I believe Baylor at West Virginia is scheduled for FS1 based on ESPN having a full schedule of Thursday night games on 10/25, maybe that's the place the Big 12 game ends up instead of FS2 if an alternate network is needed.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Navy, AAC & CBS Sports Carve Out Unique Rights Agreement

When Navy moved to the American Athletic Conference as a football-only member, it did so while an existing contract was in place with CBS Sports Network to televise football games, with the exception of Army-Navy and their "home" game vs. Notre Dame.

Over that time, I admit that as I was under the impression that Navy's rights would then revert to the existing television contract the conference has with ESPN, but over this winter I was corrected on that stance and that the conference had retained those rights.  From there, the conference, Navy, CBS Sports and current primary rightsholder ESPN came to a new agreement on how to divide up Navy's football rights.

Note that Army-Navy is covered under a separate agreement that ends after the 2028 game.  That deal also included the matchup(s) in basketball.

From here, I'm going to ask you to read Bill Wagner's report from the Capital Gazette because he gets direct quotes on the agreement & negotiations from American Athletic commissioner Mike Aresco & Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk.

To summarize what Bill unearthed:
  • One Navy home game each season, plus the "home" game vs. Notre Dame in even numbered seasons, will be available to the primary rightsholder.  This provides some value to the American's future rights agreement with four Notre Dame games available to the conference for the length of this agreement.
  • All other home games will be on CBS Sports Network.
  • Navy had a strong desire to keep all of their football home games on Saturdays, which CBS was amenable to.
A source clarified that the primary rightsholder will not have access to Navy home games until 2020, which would be the first year of any new rights agreements.  CBS Sports Network would have all home games until then.  CBS also has exercised the option to carry the game vs. Notre Dame from San Diego.

From the press release, there are a few subtle items that may be noteworthy:
  • At the end of the first paragraph: "As part of the agreement, CBS Sports Network will continue to televise the majority of Navy home football games, including the Air Force at Navy game."

    Since Navy's out-of-conference schedule is fairly rigid with games vs. Army, Air Force & Notre Dame on an annual basis*, if CBSSN retains the Air Force game, that would seem to indicate that the primary rightsholder will get the top choice of Navy's AAC home games.

    *2018 has Navy playing 13 regular season games due to a road game at Hawai'i, so they have two other non-conference games instead of just one.
  • "The network also will televise additional select Navy home athletic events, including basketball, baseball and lacrosse games."

    Right now, I believe these events are covered through the Patriot League's agreement with CBS Sports Network.  I do not know if this statement is referring to that agreement, or if Navy was allowed to place specific events on the network outside of any agreements the Patriot League has.  As mentioned early, at least one Army-Navy matchup in basketball is covered as part of the agreement for the football game.
  • The length of the agreement is ten years, but the first two years run alongside the final two years of the American's rights agreement with ESPN.  Does this signal that the length of the American's upcoming rights agreement, potentially with ESPN based on the Capital Gazette article, will be eight years to line up the two agreements? 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A few notes from the 2018 Mountain West national TV schedule release

Couple items I took away from MW TV schedule release

The schedule so far

* Feels like one American Athletic game will end up on CBSSN on Black Friday of the three available (Houston-Memphis, UCF-USF or East Carolina-Cincinnati) unless a C-USA game has a date change.  Would be a doubleheader w/MAC.

* Memphis at SMU now seems locked to an ESPN network on 11/16 with Boise St. at New Mexico, as does USF at Tulsa on 10/12.  Arizona at Utah on 10/12 could also end up on an ESPN network, maybe not the same one as USF at Tulsa though.  The reason I don't think Arizona at Utah wouldn't be with FS1 is due to their MLB postseason commitments.

* Lafayette at Army appears to be set for 12pm ET on 11/10 with New Mexico at Air Force at 3:30pm.  Most Army games on campus are expected to be noon starts, but this one seems more pinned down.

* Look for Louisville at Syracuse to start at 7pm ET on 11/9 with the Fresno St. at Boise St. game to follow it on ESPN2 with the 10:15pm ET start its been given.

* I'm under the impression that CBS Sports Network is preparing to continue carrying Navy home games, either via sublicense or through a direct agreement. Looks like these would be the start times:
  • 9/8 - Memphis: 12pm
  • 9/15 - SMU: 3:30pm (assuming Army at 12pm)
  • 10/13 - Temple: 12pm or 3:30pm
  • 10/20 - Houston: 3:30pm (assuming Army at 12pm)
  • 11/17 - Tulsa: 3:30pm (assuming Army at 12pm)
I've been told that the Navy game vs. Notre Dame in San Diego on 10/27 will be on CBS.  CBS had an option to air this year's game and elected to pick it up. It should be a night game with Florida vs. Georgia expected to be the afternoon game.

* Hawai'i has seven games available for their Spectrum PPV package (Rice, Duquesne, at San Jose St., Wyoming, Nevada, Utah St. & UNLV).  Four games were selected for national TV and the road games at BYU & Army should be part of those schools' rights packages, with ESPN & BYUtv and CBS Sports Network, respectively.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Take Two - CFB TV Guesses for 2018 Weeks 0 & 1

Since there's been a few changes, additions and news items for the early season portion of the 2018 college football season, after initially deciding not to do it, I decided to write out "take two" posts for each week.

Here's the updated Week Zero & Week One and here's the original for comparison purposes.  Similar to the original - if you don't see your game listed, assume it is online only.

Week Zero

I've placed Hawai'i at Colorado St. with ESPN.  If it were to air on CBS Sports Network, it might air earlier in the day.  It could also air on ESPN leading into the FCS Kickoff game.  I don't have any knowledge of any Top Rank events that ESPN could air.  UFC has a Fight Night card tentatively scheduled for this night which should occupy FS1.

Saturday
Duquesne at UMass, 6pm Eleven Sports
North Carolina A&T vs. Jacksonville St., 6:30pm ESPN
Wyoming at New Mexico St., 8pm AggieVision
Hawai'i at Colorado St., 10pm ESPN

Week One

Northwestern St. at Texas A&M has been moved to Thursday 8/30 for a SEC Network telecast.  Per the Washington Post, 8/30 through 9/4 is the FIFA international play window for women's soccer.  ESPN2 should be relatively locked into US Open tennis.  I would think that if ESPN airs a game, it would be Monday-Wednesday, where FS1 could take a game on Thursday if they desire.

Thursday
UCF at Connecticut, 6pm CBSSN
Northwestern at Purdue, 7:30pm ESPN
New Mexico St. at Minnesota, 8pm BTN
Weber St. at Utah, 8pm Pac-12 Networks
Northwestern St. at Texas A&M, 8:30pm SEC (confirmed)
Wake Forest at Tulane, 9pm CBSSN

Syracuse at Western Michigan & Colorado vs. Colorado St. have both been moved to Friday to give CBSSN a doubleheader.

Friday
Syracuse at Western Michigan, 6pm CBSSN (network confirmed only)
Utah St. at Michigan St., 8pm ESPN
Western Kentucky at Wisconsin, 8pm FS1
Colorado vs. Colorado St., 9:30pm CBSSN (confirmed)
San Diego St. at Stanford, 10pm Pac-12

No major changes to the games available for Saturday.  As previously suspected, FS1 will have two MLB windows at 4pm & 7pm ET.  I do not know if there will be a UFC event on this Saturday, specifically if there will be a pay-per-view event that FS1 would be contracted to air prelims for.

I dropped the 12pm CBSSN window in this configuration and placed Houston at Rice at 3:30pm in place of Colorado vs. Colorado St..  I also moved Army at Duke to ACC Network Extra to account for only one SEC game on Thursday. And yes, I know someone on the CBS crew(?) has said that they'll have Tennessee vs. West Virginia, but I don't necessarily think that a sublicense is a sure thing or required.

Saturday
12pm ABC: Texas vs. Maryland
12pm FOX: FAU at Oklahoma
12pm ESPN: Akron at Nebraska
12pm FS1: Appalachian St. at Penn St.
12pm FSN: Abilene Christian at Baylor
12pm ESPNU: Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt
12pm SEC: Austin Peay at Georgia
12pm SEC: Eastern Illinois at Arkansas
12pm BTN: Texas St. at Rutgers
12:20pm ACC Network: Furman at Clemson
12:30pm ACC RSNs: Massachusetts at Boston College
2pm Pac-12: Bowling Green at Oregon
3:30pm ABC: Louisville vs. Alabama
3:30pm FOX: Oregon St. at Ohio St.
3:30pm ESPNU: Boise St. at Troy
3:30pm CBSSN: Houston at Rice
3:30pm BTN: Kent St. at Illinois
3:30pm FSN: Missouri St. at Oklahoma St.
4pm SEC: Stephen F. Austin at Mississippi St.
4pm SEC: UT Martin at Missouri
5pm Pac-12: North Carolina at California
5:30pm ESPN: Tennessee vs. West Virginia
6pm KStateHD.TV/ESPN3: South Dakota at Kansas St.
7pm CBSSN: Indiana at FIU
7pm beIN Sports: SMU at North Texas
7pm Jayhawk TV: Nicholls at Kansas
7:30pm NBC: Michigan at Notre Dame (confirmed)
7:30pm FOX: Cincinnati at UCLA
7:30pm ESPNU: Central Michigan at Kentucky
7:30pm SEC: Coastal Carolina at South Carolina
7:30pm SEC: Charleston Southern at Florida
7:30pm BTN: Northern Illinois at Iowa
8pm ABC: Washington vs. Auburn
8pm Pac-12: UNLV at USC
8pm Cyclones.TV: South Dakota St. at Iowa St.
8pm FSN: Southern at TCU
9pm ESPN: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
10:15pm ESPNU: Washington St. at Wyoming
10:30pm FS1: BYU at Arizona
10:30pm CBSSN: Navy at Hawai'i
11pm Pac-12: UTSA at Arizona St.

Sunday
7:30pm ABC: LSU vs. Miami (FL) confirmed

No updates from me here.  The original post spells out my thoughts on this date.

Monday
8pm ESPN: Virginia Tech at Florida St. (network confirmed, to be in primetime)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Feeding Your Conference Realignment Hunger: Mountain West, Gonzaga, BYU and Others

I really don't like discussing conference realignment, but I've become more apathetic towards the topic, so I guess it doesn't hurt to touch on a few quick items regarding the news that Gonzaga is possibly considering Mountain West membership.

* As Matt Brown mentioned, and I agree, going for Gonzaga first puts BYU in a corner of sorts.  It also complicates any negotiations BYU may have had with ESPN about continuing their television contract for football rights.  The flipside for this is that the Mountain West allowed Boise St. to dictate terms of remaining in the Mountain West several years back, and some of those terms included keeping their home games tied to ESPN with some exceptions.

Mountain West rights agreements with ESPN and CBS Sports Network expire after the 2019-20 athletic year, so this might be the conference getting a jump on things, similar to the Sun Belt, though the Sun Belt had a football conference championship game to use as the reason to start discussions.

* Another item to watch when it comes to taking on Gonzaga & BYU could be their preference to maintain the TV roles KHQ/ROOT Sports Northwest & BYUtv, respectively, have today.  In the case of BYU, it may not be as hard to do as it was back when the Mountain West dealt with CSTV and Comcast's Versus.  ROOT Sports and its sister RSNs of AT&T SportsNet should be easy to incorporate.  Whether any of these schools would raise a stink over any ESPN3 / ESPN+ exclusives is another story.

* A potential complication for BYU is either buying out, cancelling or postponing tons of future football games.  Per FBSchedules, the Cougars are fully scheduled for 2019, at ten games for 2020 & 2021, and have at least six games accounted for per season through 2023.

How did Navy accomplish this?  They accepted an invite in January of 2012 but did not join in football until 2015, giving them three seasons to complete as many game contracts as possible and either buyout or cancel many other contracts.

* The WCC's TV rights come up after the 2018-19 athletic year, so this is quite pivotal for any agreement the conference attempts to negotiate.  Gonzaga & BYU can be replaced by other schools, more in physical status than in value & recognition.  If the WCC were to look to the same private, faith based institutions that make up the membership todays, I believe Seattle and Grand Canyon would be first targets.  Seattle has wanted back in the conference ever since they returned to Division I.  Grand Canyon is a bit more interesting because they are attempting to change their for-profit status.

* The WCC's new scheduling model, announced Monday, seems to be a nod to Gonzaga.  It gives the schools two more non-conference opportunities to do as they wish.  Let's be clear the changes this doesn't necessarily poke a stick at St. Mary's and its inability to get to the NCAA tournament as an at-large:
  • Top two seeds don't play until the semifinals - St. Mary's lost in the semifinals, not before that.
  • Play more home games than road games - St. Mary's played eight non-conference home games, two true road games and a neutral site multi-team event.
  • Play in a multi-team event - That box was checked.
The Gaels ticked off all those boxes.  Its about what they do with those eight home games, or maybe a couple less home games and trying out a few more home-home series.

As for the model itself of 16 conference games and the stepladder format for the conference tournament, that was the model pre-BYU & Pacific when the WCC was an eight team league.  This might have also been a precursor to a future without BYU and Gonzaga.

* If the Mountain West adds both BYU and Gonzaga, that leads to 13 schools in most sports.  The MEAC has done 13 member conference tournaments and the MAC had a period of 13 football playing members and a scheduling model for it too, so it can be done.  

New Mexico St. might be a target to get to 14 & balance things out.  The Aggies are re-entering football independence while in the WAC for others sports.  If they are being considered for membership, it could be tied to BYU and their entry.