Friday, August 21, 2015

Men's basketball schedule release notes

*For non-conference games, only Kentucky released their primary national TV non-conference games.  Two home games on ESPN2, the road game at UCLA on ESPN and the Louisville home game on CBS.
* Louisville at Kentucky will lead in to CBS's Sun Bowl broadcast on 12/26.
* The four SEC schools who are not part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge will play conference games against each other on January 30th.
* The SEC Network will carry three to five games on Saturdays during conference play with the exception of the day of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.  Much like football, FSN will no longer sublicense men's basketball games (or any sports) from ESPN.  The SEC Network will be the beneficiary of those games.
* ESPN did not release a separate Super Tuesday schedule for the SEC and Big Ten, which makes sense after the SEC schedule was announced as most Tuesdays will have a flexible option for the SEC half of the doubleheader.  Games are set for a particular time on Tuesday but could air on ESPN, ESPNU and/or SEC Network.
* There are a few ESPN2 Wednesday night games.  Don't remember the SEC having any ESPN or ESPN2 games on Wednesdays in prior seasons.  That was typically the point of the Tuesday & Thursday games.  SEC Network and, previously, syndication packages (FOX, Comcast, Raycom/JP/SEC TV, etc) or the odd ESPN3 exclusive were on Wednesdays.

Big 12
* Similar to the SEC, only a handful of non-conference games were released.  Kansas, who usually releases all TV details when the Big 12 schedule comes out, only released the start time & TV info for the game vs. Oregon St. in Kansas City and that the road game at San Diego St. would be on CBS Sports Network.  The Big 12/SEC Challenge games have not yet been set for TV.
* Six intraconference games were not picked up for airing on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS or sublicensed to CBS.  Three of the games were Texas home games and the school has confirmed they will air on Longhorn Network.  The other three (TCU at Kansas St., Texas Tech at Kansas St. and Baylor at Texas Tech) will likely be distributed by FSN to multiple regional sports networks as they have reverted back to the home school.
* When counting up the Big 12 controlled games currently scheduled for ESPN Networks plus the CBS sublicense, 105 games have been chosen.  This does include the conference tournament and the three intraconference games on Longhorn Network.  Per the Big 12 website, around 115 games can be chosen by ESPN and the CBS sublicense, approximately 106 regular season games plus the nine conference tournament games.  Expect a handful of December games, like SMU at TCU, Vanderbilt at Baylor, Iowa at Iowa St. (which had a date change requested by, presumably, ESPN) and a few others.

* Four American Athletic Conference non-conference home games were set for TV, including a pair of mid-February games: Gonzaga to SMU on Saturday 2/13 and Villanova at Temple on Wednesday 2/17.  ESPN appears to be trying to push rivalries towards the 2/17 date which is when Duke at North Carolina should be played.
* The TV schedules for the final day of the Maui Invitational and the first evening of the Charleston Classic are set.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Notes for 2015-16 MBK, CFB scheduling and MLB Postseason

* The War on I-4 (USF at UCF) has moved to Thanksgiving night on ESPN which will keep a streak alive of Thanksgiving night college football games for the network.  At one point, ESPN appeared to be trying to sway LSU to move their home game vs. Texas A&M, but LSU held firm in its stance that they would not play on a Thursday night at home.

Moving games to Black Friday are typically about national TV, with the exception of the MAC who prefers to give its schools a full week to prepare for their conference championship game (though they will have a game on CBSSN on 11/27) and, in 2015, Georgia St. as Georgia Tech will be hosting Georgia on 11/28 as both GSU & GT are located in Atlanta (Troy has done to stay away from the Iron Bowl too).  In late May, Tulane agreed to move their home game vs. Tulsa from 11/28 to 11/27 to avoid a conflict with the Bayou Classic being played at he Superdome.  That move may have precipitated ESPN asking about moving other games around so that one of the American games didn't have to end up on ESPN3, though the number of college football telecast windows for Black Friday is unknown at this time.

By moving the USF-UCF, scheduling for MBK and CFB on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU on 11/27 might look something like this, accounting for the slotting of Miami (FL) at Pittsburgh, Iowa at Nebraska, Tulsa at Tulane and Navy at Houston:

ABC: Doubleheader at 12pm & 3:30pm
ESPN: 3rd place & championship of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the afternoon and Baylor at TCU in the evening
ESPN2: Football at 11am or 11:30am then basketball the rest of the day
ESPNU: Basketball in the afternoon, then a college football game in the evening.

* MLB has released its postseason dates for each round of the playoffs and the dates that FOX Sports will carry games.  Compared to last year, there are very few conflicts.
  • FS1 does not have any Thursday or Friday night football games during the period of time when the network would carry the ALDS and ALCS.
  • The CONCACAF playoff between the US and Mexico, moved from 10/9 to 10/10, will not have any postseason conflicts as the ALDS is off that day.
  • ALCS games 2 (10/17) and 7 (10/24 if needed) fall on Saturdays.
    • For 10/17, FS1 has a five hour window (approximately 4pm-9pm ET) open.  Their college football window on FOX is a 4pm game, so they have the ability to be flexible on both channels.
    • On 10/24, FOX's college football window is at 7:30pm ET.  Since this would be game 7, it would likely air in primetime and if it airs on FOX, their CFB game could move to FS1 or to FOX earlier in the day.  FS1 is free after a 12pm game. and already set up to air a game at night right now.
  • World Series game 4 on FOX should be at night and FOX's college football window is at 3:30pm ET.
* I'm unsure why the MGM Grand Main Event has not yet announced its time & TV plans.  I am under the impression that it is with ESPN as a rightsholder, but it is possible that the deal was only for one year or TV possibilities are being worked on by the event's coordinators, bd Global.

The other event not yet set for television, nor has had any bracket information announced, is the Great Alaska Shootout.  As I understand it, the agreement with CBSSN expired and both sides were working to finalize a new deal.

* Per this release from the D2 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Sinclair's American Sports Network will be the rightsholder to the NCAA's Division II football package, replacing CBS Sports Network it appears.  If I counted right, seven D2 games will air on ASN, all on Saturdays, which is a switch from CBSSN who showed them on Thursday nights.

The ASN schedule is located here.

* Took a look at what has been announced for the Big East's non-conference schedules as only Georgetown has yet to publicly release their schedule.  Some known conflicts:
  • Games on 11/13 (five games) and 11/20 (just ETSU at Villanova for now) should air on FS2 or FSN.  FS1 will have NASCAR truck series races those evenings.  CBSSN does not have the space to pick up games on these dates due to previously scheduled events (Veterans Classic on 11/13 and both the Paradise Jam and Cincinnati at USF CFB on 11/20.
  • Games on 11/14 (five games), 11/21 (just Brown at Providence for now) and 11/28 (four games, including Georgia at Seton Hall) will likely suffer the same fate of FS2 & FSN due to college football and UFC conflicts.  CBSSN does not have the space to pick up games on these dates due to full college football schedules.  FSN's availability is also limited due to two planned CFB telecast windows on these dates.
  • December 5th has five games available, including Syracuse at Georgetown.  There will a Big 12 game in the mid-afternoon on FS1, potentially Bundesliga on FS1 and/or FS2 and the Big Ten Championship on FOX in the evening.
  • December 11th and 12th may have UFC events in the evening.  The 11th does not have any games scheduled yet, but the 12th does, including Cincinnati at Xavier and Tennessee at Butler, so those may end up in the afternoon.
  • December 8th will have a Premier Boxing Champions event on FS1 at 9pm ET, so one game will likely move to another outlet.
* The SEC will release its men's basketball conference schedule tomorrow.  My expectation is that it will include TV information.  You might see the Super Tuesday schedule from the Big Ten and SEC today if it precedes the rest of the conference schedule like the Big Monday schedule did for the ACC and Big 12.

* ESPN has released their Tip Off Marathon schedule (start with Monday at 5:30pm ET & end on Tuesday at 10pm).  It culminates again with the Champions Classic doubleheader.  In terms of home teams, three will come from the A-10 and two each from the SEC, Big West and Pac-12.

I also believe the Georgetown-Maryland game, which it might end up being a mismatch, got the short end of the stick with respect to scheduling as it will be on ESPN concurrently with the Champions Classic.  I personally would have swapped it with the Oklahoma at Memphis game.  If you don't know the history of why this game hasn't been played, the Baltimore Sun goes into some details.

There is also a one hour break between 12pm and 1pm ET.  I assume this is to allow people to stretch their legs, expel the caffeine they've consumed to get through the late night/early morning games and just take stock in their lives ;).

Friday, August 7, 2015

FOX CFB Scheduling for Soccer & MLB, MBK Events

* It appears that the CONCACAF playoff match to determine the Confederations Cup representative in 2017 could be moving to Saturday, October 10th from an announced date of Friday, October 9th.  The game is being played at the Rose Bowl and UCLA is off that weekend, but with FOX Sports as the TV partner, a move has a few complications.

FOX will start its coverage of the ALDS on FS1 either Thursday 10/8 or Friday 10/9.  It does not have any college football scheduled for Friday, but FOX has a windows scheduled for 7:30pm ET and FS1 has two set aside at 12pm and 4pm ET on Saturday.  No decisions have been made as to when the LDS games will start but FOX does have to provide MLB Network with two LDS games.  FOX already may know which dates MLB intends to scheduled the ALDS, so they may already know that they'll either only have on.  I don't think FOX broadcast network will have any LDS games.

FOX may also know which football games will be available to them in the 12 day selection process or at least when they'll be selecting in comparison to other networks.  If they have the ability to select a game like Oklahoma vs. Texas, which is a game that is typically played during the daytime for many reasons, that 7:30pm window could become a 12pm or 3:30pm window on the broadcast network, remain open as part of a (split?) doubleheader with a game window moving from FS1 or some other combo.

Saturday does give FOX a bit more flexibility with the soccer match, even with more potential events for FOX and FS1 to schedule.

* ESPN Events will now take operational control of the NIT Tip Off event.  Note that the NCAA retains ownership but ESPN will handle tickets, finding teams, etc.  The event will be played at the Barclays Center beginning in 2015 as part of a four year deal with the management company that handles both the arena in Brooklyn and the Nassau Coliseum, who will get the event in 2017.

The postseason event's semifinals and championship game will remain at Madison Square Garden, scheduled for March 29th and 31st.

Also, the Barclay Center Classic, scheduled for 11/27 and 11/28, should be an evening affair on 11/27 with the NIT Tip Off 3rd place and championship in the early afternoon.

* ESPN announced telecast schedules for several early season men's basketball tournaments and events.  Some of the events had games that weren't yet set for TV.  The next several paragraphs are intended to fill in some of the blanks.  For some reason, ESPNEWS isn't used for these events, so I didn't bring it up here.

If you want to look over the schedule, weeks 2, 3 and 7 on the basketball side are the places to be.  On the football side, weeks 12 and 13.

* 11/19
  • ESPN2 (possibly) & ESPNU - For the four games not set for TV that are part of the 2nd half of the quarterfinal brackets in Puerto Rico and Charleston, I believe ESPN will slot those closer to the start of the season based on the best available teams.  ESPN will not be involved as it will be carrying East Carolina at UCF football game.  ESPNU will have a UL-Monroe at Texas St. at 9:30pm, so its available windows are limited
  • With limited openings, I think Creighton at Indiana ends up on BTN.
* 11/20
  • ESPN2 & ESPNU - There's nothing new regarding the Puerto Rico & Charleston 1st semifinal games having flexible TV options.  For several years the 5pm slot when these two events were played were flex slots.  With the 2K Classic moving to a Friday-Sunday format, the flex slot time has changed
  • ESPNU has a hole in the schedule after the 1pm slot and the 2nd Puerto Rico semifinal at 5pm.  Provided that the Xavier at Michigan game isn't slotted for some mid-afternoon Friday game, it should remain empty.  The consolation game from Charleston at 3:30pm doesn't allow for proper slotting of the Puerto Rico game.
  • ESPN should have NBA.  ESPN2 is wall-to-wall with MBK before until Air Force at Boise St. at 9:30pm and ESPNU has mostly MBK except for the noted 3pm window.  Seems more likely that Xavier at Michigan will end up on BTN.  I don't think ESPNEWS will be used.
* 11/21
  • ESPN3 - Plan on both games any games from the Hall of Fame Tip-Off to air on ESPN3.  Its a Saturday and college football is more than likely to take up the telecast windows where these games will be played.
* 11/22
  • ESPN & ESPN2 - It looks like the plan is for ESPN and ESPN2 to carry the championship & 3rd place games from the Hall of Fame Tip-Off and 2K Sports Classic.  It could look like the following:
    • 12pm ESPN: HoF 3rd place; 1pm ESPN2: 2K Classic 3rd Place; 3:30pm ESPN: 2K Classic Championship; 5:30pm ESPN or ESPN2: HoF Championship
    • 12pm ESPN2: HoF 3rd Place; 1pm ESPN: 2K Classic Championship; 3:30pm ESPN2: 2K Classic 3rd Place; 5:30pm ESPN or ESPN2 (probably ESPN2): HoF Championship
    • ESPN, in a few of their events, seems to be open to shifting around the 3rd place & championship games for better television slots.
* 11/23
  • ESPNU - The MGM Grand Main Event should be split between an early game on ESPN3 and a late game on ESPNU.  ESPN2 is completely booked with games from Maui, Brooklyn and Kansas City.  ESPN has Monday Night football and is out.
* 11/24
  • ESPNU - The Legends Classic consolation round will lead into a MAC football game.
* 11/25
  • ESPN2 - Since the NIT semifinals have moved to Thanksgiving, the network will have the ability to schedule a full day block from Maui, the Battle 4 Atlantis and, potentially, the MGM Grand Main Event. 
  • ESPNU - You might see the 3rd place game from Las Vegas plus the 7th place game from Maui.
  • AXS - AXS gets two of the quarterfinal games from the Bahamas and the entire consolation bracket.  Typically the AXS games are slotted for the evening.
* 11/26 (Thanksgiving)
  • ESPN - Last year, the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals aired at 1pm & 3:30pm ET.  ESPN could put them later in the day if they want.  No college football on ESPN on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1997.
  • LHN - With Texas in the Battle 4 Atlantis, I wouldn't be completely surprised if they simulcast their Thursday & Friday games on the Longhorn Network, provided they win on Wednesday.  Wednesday's game is scheduled for AXS, but a win guarantees that the remaining two games will be on an ESPN network.
* 11/27 (Black Friday)
  • ESPN - Expect the 3rd place & championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis to air on ESPN in the early afternoon.  Depending on the scheduling of the Bahamas games, they could potentially put one of the Miami Hall of Fame event games on ESPN.  I think a 5pm game from Miami is more likely to air on ESPNU.   I don't think you'll see any other football games on ESPN besides Baylor at TCU.
  • ESPN2 - ESPN2 has basketball games scheduled from approximately 3-7pm ET and 9:30pm-1:30am.  Making the leap that the Battle 4 Atlantis championship round would be on ESPN above should allow for a college football game at 11am or 11:30am ET.  Between 7pm & 9:30pm could be the 2nd half of the Miami Hall Of Fame doubleheader.
  • ESPNU - Currently has college basketball games from 12:30pm-4:30pm ET.  Assuming the first game of the Miami basketball doubleheader, a college football game could air after 7pm ET. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

FOX sets three C-USA FB start times, Bayou Classic to NBCSN & more

* FOX Sports set coverage plans for three C-USA games in the month of October yesterday
  • 10/3: Western Kentucky at Rice - 3:30pm ET, FSN
  • 10/17: Marshall at FAU - 12pm ET, FOX College Sports
  • 10/24: Army at Rice - 12pm ET, FSN
October 3rd is FOX's last Saturday for MLB regular season coverage.  The broadcast network has a MLB telecast window at 1pm while FS1 will have a MLB game either at 4pm or 7pm ET.  The schedule that came out from FOX in early June had a college football telecast window at 4pm and the network also (tentatively) has a UFC Fight Night that evening.  In March, a UFC card moved to F/X due to FS1's coverage of the Big East men's basketball championship, so the card could move there.  FOX could also take on a CFB game after the MLB window on FOX for a doubleheader if necessary.

As for 10/17 and 10/24, those choices might have been made based on FOX's discussions with MLB as to their telecast windows for the ALDS and ALCS and where other Big 12 and Pac-12 games will land on those days.

* I mentioned on Friday night that the Pac-12 Network had tentative telecast windows on 9/26 of 4pm ET & 8pm ET and found that a bit odd for two reasons:
  • It would usually eliminate a Pac-12 game from being aired on ABC or FOX in east coast primetime.  The broadcast networks generally have exclusivity in their telecast windows, at least at the start of the game, where ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and FOX Sports 1 do not.
  • The two Arizona schools are scheduled to play at home on 9/26 and prefer night games, local time, due to heat concerns.
As with anything, this is subject to change and/or negotiation.  Depending on the selection order for the week (which isn't known), the Pac-12 Network could move their telecast windows around or ABC or FOX could allow for concurrent games.  For example, on 9/19, Stanford at USC will air on ABC at the same time as two Pac-12 Network games: San Jose St. at Oregon St. and Wyoming at Washington St.

To be clear, this might be allowed in situations where there is an abundance of games and there isn't an ideal way to stay out of the exclusive network window.  On 9/19, there are seven games on Saturday and an eighth game, New Mexico at Arizona St., was moved off of Saturday to a Friday night.

* Grambling and Southern have confirmed that the annual Bayou Classic game between the two schools will move from NBC to NBCSN with a start time of 5pm ET / 4pm CT.  The game had aired on NBC since 1991.

* Per Jon Rothstein, the NIT Tip Off pairings at Barclays Center are:
The move from MSG to the Barclays Center is due to MSG being unavailable for the dates of the NIT.  The two matchups above will be played on Thanksgiving (11/26) with the winners & losers facing off against each other on Black Friday.

* With the pairings for the Las Vegas Classic announced and the NIT Tip Off leaked, three events that typically end up on TV are waiting on finalized pairings: Barclays Center Classic, Battle 4 Atlantis, Great Alaska Shootout.  Several tournaments have said their pairings would be officially announced in early August and ESPN had their "bracket reveal" last year on August 5-6th, so the rest could be coming very soon.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Quick hitters on the Bayou Classic, MBK events and MVC on CBS & CBSSN

Some random stuff, quick hits, etc.

* As mentioned in a previous post, the Missouri Valley Conference and ESPN struck a new rights agreement.  One of the items that caught my eye was that ESPN retained the rights to the men's basketball conference tournament semifinals, since they had aired on the MVC TV Network previously, along with the championship game.

Now we have a home for the semifinals: CBS Sports Network.  The semifinals along with eight regular season men's basketball games will air on CBSSN and CBS will remain as the home of the tournament championship game.  CBS had aired the championship for ten years and the 2016 game would have been the last game under an existing sublicense agreement.

The semifinals will air on CBSSN starting this year.  ESPN currently sublicenses events from the American, MAC and MVC to CBSSN.  CBSSN also has a sublicense with FOX for Big East content.

My expectation is that the regular season games on CBSSN will be in addition to games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU and not that games will be moving from ESPN outlets over to CBSSN.

* Also, as part of the MVC-ESPN rights agreement, local & regional television agreements, including the MVC TV Network that has aired on regional sports networks will be retained per the teleconference announcing the agreement.  As for the ESPN3 production equipment rollout, I do not know how quickly that will happen, but Southern Illinois appears to be one of the schools getting their equipment soon based on the TV outlet for their home non-conference men's basketball schedule.  Indiana St. will also show games on ESPN3 this year and is looking for students to help out.

* The Maui Invitational and Paradise Jam television schedules have been released, at least most of the schedule for Maui as the game times for 11/25 are to be determined.  Game times for the Paradise Jam have been adjusted from the original bracket to account for CBSSN airing a football game on the evening of November 20th.

* When the SWAC released their TV schedule, they originally had a graphic that had the Bayou Classic game (Grambling vs. Southern) on NBC with a start time of 7pm ET and I found that a bit odd.  Southern had noted a few months back that the game had moved to a 3pm ET start.  So when I asked the SWAC's twitter account the time, another interesting tidbit was provided.
For now, I'm expecting NBC or NBCSN to carry the championship round of the Barclays Center Classic event that day.  That day also has English Premier League matches & qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, though those two events would occur, mostly, during the morning hours.  But to read that the SWAC is expecting the game to move to NBCSN would break a run of 24 straight airings on broadcast TV, specifically NBC.

* The Ivy League TV schedule will include six games on NBCSN with five of the six on Friday nights.  Only "The Game" aka Harvard-Yale will be played on a Saturday on NBCSN.

* Credit to American Sports Network, who is taking up a lot of FCS telecasts alongside their largest package from C-USA.  Whether the Big Sky game (Northern Iowa at Cal Poly) is contracted through the conference or just through Cal Poly, I don't know, but for the sake of Cal Poly as the home team, I'm listed it as "Big Sky" for now.

The Ivy League, Big Sky (see above), OVC and Southland are new additions to ASN for football.  The Ivies and OVC had basketball games on ASN during the 2014-15 season.

Also, the Southland count includes five games that will be announced during the course of the season.

Big Sky1
Big South3
Ivy League7
Patriot League2

Thursday, July 23, 2015

ESPN making deals, MW on ROOT/CI & Emerald Coast Classic adds TV

* ESPN has been active outside of the Power 5 football conferences, signing new contracts with the Southern, Southland and Missouri Valley conferences within the past month.  The big events for both the SoCon and Southland are the championship game of the men's basketball tournament and most of the events for those two conferences will be webcasts through ESPN3.  In the case of the SoCon and MVC, the schools will start receiving production equipment from ESPN to start self-producing events for ESPN3.  Over the last two to three years, ESPN has worked with multiple conferences, such as the Atlantic Sun, ACC, MAC and SEC, to take on production of games & events not shown on television.

The semifinals of the MVC men's basketball tournament have been added to ESPN's rights.  Previously these were packaged with the quarterfinals and first round games to be shown on regional TV (ie. FSMidwest, CSN Chicago, etc.).  ESPN already had rights to the men's basketball championship game which has been sublicensed to CBS for about a decade.  For the moment, it is not clear on the status of the sublicense of the game in future years.

EDIT: Per a teleconference announcing the deal, local and regional telecast deals have been preserved.  With respect to who will produce it, on-air talent, etc., I'm not sure.

Also, the existing sublicense of ESPN basketball to CBS ends after the 2015-16 season.

* The Mountain West released its ROOT Sports and Campus Insiders packages.  ESPN also used one of their supplemental picks on Tulsa at New Mexico.  Three games remain without live video at the moment.

Southern Utah at Utah St. (9/3)
New Hampshire at San Jose St. (9/3)
Mississippi Valley St. at New Mexico (9/5, a telecast is expected)

It has already been announced that the North Dakota at Wyoming game will not be televised or webcast.  Two other games, UC Davis at Hawai'i & Hawai'i at Nevada, have not had a TV announcement but other Hawai'i games not selected by CBSSN, ESPN and ROOT Sports have been picked up by Oceanic PPV with a companion webcast available through the MW Network.

* The Emerald Coast Classic semifinals and championship game will air on CBS Sports Network.  Last year CBSSN aired the championship game only.  The semifinals are scheduled for after the conclusion of the Boise St. at San Jose St. game on Black Friday and the championship game will fit in the two hour time slot between the conclusion of BYU at Utah St. and the start of Colorado St. at Fresno St.

I do not know what this means for the airing of the Corpus Christi Challenge which has aired on CBSSN during this timeframe the past couple years.  The Great Alaska Shootout is also during this time of the year and I'm told from a source that they are working to continue their relationship with CBSSN.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Some Mid-July Thoughts on Budgets, C-USA and College Basketball

The nice thing about college sports is that it essentially takes a break from late June to after July 4th.  There wasn't much to write about, at least in the areas I try to stick to covering.  There is one "big picture" item though that I felt was worth touching on.

* As you've probably read in several places, ESPN is making personnel changes outside of their college sports broadcasting departments and have allowed some of the event programming they carry to move on to other entities (NHRA to FOX Sports, Open Championship to NBC, etc.).  You also may have seen that their subscribing household number has dipped as well as cord cutting in pay TV is providing consumers more choice.  Unfortunately, the cost of subscribing to the channel, or the suite of channels, isn't decreasing, but that's another story.

Paying a rights fee isn't just the only cost for a product.  Costs of producing a live event (ie. staffing both on & off air, equipment, transportation, etc.) can be a hidden cost to us that gets defrayed through ad sales & subscriber fees.

I can't say what this means for upcoming negotiations for the Big Ten rights that they currently carry.   Or for a potential bid on English Premier League rights with tender sheets going out recently.  Or any rights coming up for bid over the next two to three years.  Reports are that ESPN is going to make adjustments to future budgets.  What I'm not sure of is how the 2016 & 2017 budgets are structured compared to 2015 before mandating cuts.  My guess is that 2016 and 2017's budgets were not flat compared to 2015, so the context of a cut of $100 million or $250 million isn't necessarily known.  It could be the difference of a 5% increase in spending vs. a 10% increase.

In some ways, with the sports rights market being relatively stable for the next few years, this is a place where ESPN and FOX, who also made some cuts with respect to their news coverage both in the field and in the studio, can reassess priorities and ways to make money.  These aren't charities.  And its also a place where NBC, CBS and others could be more active if the price is right.

* One rights agreement that could be decided soon is Conference USA's.  C-USA's commissioner, Britton Banowsky, has announced he is stepping down to take a role with the College Football Playoff Foundation and I would assume that he has announced this with negotiations for future rights finished, or at least in the hands of lawyers who are finalizing the language.

The best parallel that I can recall for something like this is when the MAC and ESPN finalized a new agreement and announced it on January 28, 2009.  A day later, MAC commissioner Rick Chryst announced that he would resign from the conference at the end of the 2008-09 athletic year.

Conference USA's media days are Tuesday, July 21 & Wednesday, July 22.

* With nearly all start times in the FBS conferences accounted for through the first three weeks of the season (mostly C-USA and Mountain West games are awaiting start times or broadcast outlets), men's basketball scheduling announcements should start to appear later this month and August.  Pairings on a handful of events have been announced or leaked.  Usually the Big 12 is the first conference to have its television schedule released.

If you want to peruse through the basketball listings, here you go.