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.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Pac-12 MBK Final: Does Its Tie-In With FOX Sports Need Improvement?

Jon Wilner from Bay Area News Group posted his most recent Pac-12 Stock Report and brought up how the Pac-12 men's basketball championship had a significantly lower number of viewers compared to all other top basketball conferences and was significantly outpaced by the Mountain West.

I responded back to Jon about it and we had a brief conversation on it over Twitter.  I thought it was worth posting it here instead of attempting to paraphrase it.




And a brief sidebar:
True, and I think its a relevant point because for a long time the semifinals were on FSN at the times they currently are when split between Pac-12 Networks, ESPN and FS1, and then were followed by a 3pm PT start on CBS for the championship game after the Big Ten Semifinals.

I don't think Friday night is the answer regardless of where it airs.  The final does better on Saturday on ESPN because it has the lead-in of the ACC.  FOX's best lead-in, and arguably one that should help both games, is to pair them together on broadcast television.  Right now they'd had to change other scheduling considerations to make it happen (this year, a Xfinity Series race aired on FOX before the Big East Championship), but to get the most back for your buck out of both, I think you have to lobby to hook yourself to Saturday and another championship game.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Friday Night Lights: Where's Your CFB Game Potentially Airing

Friday has become more of a destination night for college football compared to Thursdays where the NFL has provided regular competition for several years, including the last four with regular simulcasts on broadcast television.  So where is your game more likely to air?  More are on the way as you can look for more Mountain West weeknight games in April & C-USA sometime in the spring.  As for what has been set, I tried to figure it out:

8/31: The Big Ten have a pair of football games here, so expect one on ESPN and one on FS1.  With Pac-12 Networks airing last year's Rocky Mountain Showdown, I could see the San Diego St. at Stanford game airing there or on ESPNU.  Boise St. at Troy might be a Friday night ESPNU candidate too, possibly hooking into something on 9/7 (keep reading).

9/7: TCU at SMU is the only Friday night game scheduled and should air on ESPN2.  CBS Sports Network could also air this one in the event ESPN had more interest in Connecticut at Boise St., and both schools are willing to move to Friday night.  With Boise St. being on the road at Troy the week before, that might not interest them though unless there was a corresponding date change for the game at Troy.

ESPN has primary rights on Boise St. home games and can move up to three Boise St. games to weeknights.  There's also some rules about CBSSN airing Boise St. home games (they have to trade one of BSU's Mountain West road games), but I wouldn't expect ESPN to give this one up.

CBSSN might also have interest in Baylor at UTSA.

9/14: Georgia St. at Memphis is currently available, but my expectation is for another game to be moved here.  I guessed Miami (FL) at Toledo earlier.  One of the Pac-12 at Mountain West matchups (Arizona St. at San Diego St. or Oregon St. at Nevada) could be considered for a move as well.

9/21: FAU at UCF seems like it was added for the purpose of airing on ESPN, which should push Penn St. at Illinois to FS1.  Washington St. at USC seems like it would be paired with FAU at UCF as part of a doubleheader.

Could a C-USA game move here for CBS Sports Network, like Virginia Tech at Old Dominion or NC State at Marshall?  Maybe, but NC State vetoed a weeknight date change for national TV when visiting Old Dominion a few years back.  Virginia Tech at Old Dominion might be more plausible.  Both could stay on Saturday with one airing on Stadium too since they'll have the chance at some higher end games from the C-USA inventory.

9/28: My expectation is that Memphis at Tulane would be on ESPN and UCLA at Colorado would air on FS1.

10/5: Look for a doubleheader of Georgia Tech at Louisville followed by Utah St. at BYU on ESPN.

10/12: I can see USF at Tulsa airing on CBS Sports Network or ESPN2 with Arizona at Utah on ESPN.  I would not expect the games to be presented as a doubleheader on ESPN.  FS1 should be out based on MLB playoff scheduling.

10/19: Colorado St. at Boise St. is set for ESPN2 and it might end up being their only game as the NBA should be in season on ESPN.  CBS Sports Network could take on a C-USA game if interested, like FAU at Marshall or Old Dominion at Western Kentucky.

10/26: FS1 is available to take games again with the end of their MLB commitments.  Indiana at Minnesota seems likely here, with ESPN taking a doubleheader of Miami (FL) at Boston College & Utah at UCLA.

11/2: This one is a bit tricky.  Pittsburgh at Virginia is likely to air on ESPN2, but Colorado at Arizona could either be paired with it or air separately on FS1 after NASCAR truck races. A hint as to whether the Pac-12 game is in play for FS1 could be whether they adjust the start time for the truck race at least 30 minutes earlier.  There was an overlap on a Truck Series race last year with the Washington at Stanford game that ticked off a lot of viewers, so maybe FOX uses FOX Business for the race in this case.

11/9: Louisville at Syracuse is the only game set for Friday at this time.  ESPN will be carrying the Armed Forces Classic MBK event, so the football game should be on ESPN2.  If there's a doubleheader, look for a Mountain West game, but if the Pac-12's China game (2018: Yale vs. California) airs on ESPN2, you'll probably not have another football game.  CBS Sports Network might also be carrying the Veterans Classic event on this Friday (might not be a doubleheader) and they have the PBR World Finals in the late evening, so they would also appear to be out.

11/16: ESPN should have several hours tied up with college basketball events like the 2K Classic and events in Charleston & Puerto Rico.  Memphis at SMU is scheduled but I can see that one going to CBSSN as they've carried Friday football at this particular point in the season in the past.  The Mountain West looks like the possible conference to take on this Friday for ESPN2.  Boise St. at New Mexico is a possibility though ESPN would need to send a Boise St. home game over to CBSSN to air that game.

11/23: Black Friday, which is more like its own mini Saturday.  This year has more games available as the PK 80 event was, so far, a one time event (NOTE: The AD who was active in getting the event off the ground recently resigned from Michigan St.).  Here's my early take on a split of games:

ESPN & ABC: Virginia at Virginia Tech, two of the American games, one Big 12 and one Pac-12 game. Look for a MAC window as well.

FOX Sports: Two Big 12, one Pac-12 and Nebraska at Iowa

CBS Sports Network: They'll have a window for either the MAC, plus either an American or Mountain West game.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Quick Look at New C-USA Rights Agreements

A few items on the new Conference USA rights agreements

* CBS Sports Network essentially picked up the ESPN portion of the rights agreement, taking on the five regular season football games plus the conference championship game in addition to the six regular season football games they already carried.  Men's basketball will also see a marginal increase in linear television exposure (two games).  To lighten their load, potentially three of those 12 football games and up to six men's basketball games will air on Facebook with a CBS production.

CBSSN has also been working on (finally) adding authenticated streaming for the TV providers they have agreements with.  Recently they added DirecTV and Dish.

And to get a five year deal with a financial bump from CBS Sports where the last set of deals were of a shorter term is nice security.  Even with the addition of three C-USA games, CBSSN should still have plenty of room if it is working on adjustments in the areas of the American, MAC or Mountain West.

* Any webcast, whether its ESPN3, Facebook or school produced is a nice extra because of how the school can work to pick the optimal start time to maximize ticket sales and still get a TV quality production.  And there are ways to push these streams to televisions, so to point to these streams and say that you can only watch them on a computer is a misnomer.

* Production costs of streams were pointed out as a reason to not go the route that the Sun Belt did with ESPN+ and those costs, depending on the contract, could lead to the conference eating up its rights fee.  For example, the previous contract with the Missouri Valley Conference called for them to pay a portion of production costs and that cost exceeded the rights fee the conference was receiving from ESPN.

* beIN Sports wasn't mentioned, but they remain a rightsholder for 2018-19.  Their agreement was one year longer than the expiring CBSSN and ESPN agreements.  Per North Texas AD Wren Baker, the conference is still talking with both them and ESPN.  The talks with ESPN might end up being about how schools can self-produce content to air on ESPN3.

* Right now, the televise game count is slightly lower, but the conference is banking on accessibility of Facebook in addition to linear TV.  Its an interesting bet.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Units earned in the 2018 NCAA Tournament

Have tracked this the last couple years.  Here's some information on how much a unit pays out over a six year period.

68 units are earned simply by qualifying for the tournament as an at-large or conference champion.  A unit is earned for each game played, except for the national championship game.  Essentially the unit count is frozen once the Final Four is set.  A win in the First Four is no different than a credit earned at any other time.

The conferences listed are those who have earned more than one credit.  This will be updated upon the close of games each night or the following morning.

Updated as of completion of 3/25 games

ACC - 21
America East - 2
American - 5
Atlantic 10 - 5
Big 12 - 19
Big East - 13
Big South - 2
Big Ten - 12
C-USA - 2
MAC - 2
Mountain West - 4
MVC - 5
Pac-12 - 3
SEC - 16
SWAC - 2
WCC - 3

16 conferences have earned a single credit.