Monday, June 28, 2010

Upcoming Attractions

Updated (7/13/10) - Added ACC and Big East media day info.

July 1st begins the NCAA athletic calendar and 2010 promises to be a unique year. This will be the final year for at least three teams in their existing conference (Nebraska - Big 12, Utah - MWC, Boise St. - WAC) and possibly a fourth if Colorado is able to exit the Big 12 after the 2010-11 athletic year.

July 1 is typically when schools make major website enhancements or move to a new hosting company. And the football media day is typically the 1st big gathering of the media and a conference's executive staff. TV announcements for the current season generally pop up during this time, along with announcements regarding new contracts. We might see new contract announcements for the ACC and C-USA.

I don't have a full list at the moment, but here's the list of what I have:

ACC - July 25-26
Big 12 - July 26-28
Big East - August 2-3
Big Ten - August 2-3
C-USA - July 25
MAC - July 29-30
MWC - July 27-28
PAC-10 - July 27-29
SEC - July 21-23
Sun Belt - July 19-20
WAC - July 25-27

The PAC-10's will be a unique format where they spend July 27 in New York City, July 28 at the ESPN campus in Bristol, CT and July 29 at the Rose Bowl. C-USA will also revert back to a traditional media day instead of the media teleconference they held last year. The Sun Belt will again go with a videoconference instead of an in-person media day.

If anyone has dates for the other conferences, please send them along.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Red River Shootout in Primetime?

The Red River Shootout is one of the penultimate games on the college football schedule. It has often decided the Big 12 South and sometimes foretold the BCS rep for the Big 12. It often is played at high noon ET or CT but has been played as late as 3:30pm. It also has been the sole game ABC has aired during the time slot it has been played.

Could it be moving to prime time? The Cotton Bowl stadium does have lights, but the two schools have often shied away from playing the game at night. I think we could see a Red River Shootout at night and here's a few key indicators:

1) The FSN schedule for the Big 12 has their telecasts on that date at 12:30pm and 4:30pm. 4:30pm is scheduled for Georgia at Colorado. Typically the Red River Shootout has been played in an exclusive window and FSN does not televise against it, though there are exceptions. For example, Kansas-Kansas St. aired opposite the game on FSN in 2005.

Either way, with FSN doing a 4:30pm game, ABC likely isn't doing a 3:30pm ET start and probably won't coexist with the FSN games. 4:30pm plus 3.5 hours = 8pm. Seems to make some sense.

2) A second indicator is the release of the MAC's regional TV schedule on ESPN Plus. Ohio at Eastern Michigan has been scheduled for a 12pm kickoff. Many of the ESPN Plus affiliates who carry these games are ABC affiliates, as in prior seasons the Cleveland and Detroit affiliates have picked up the MAC package. During the three years that the MAC has had the ESPN Plus syndication package, twice the Red River game has aired at 12pm on ABC and the MAC package has skipped that Saturday.

Now the SEC and Big East packages have aired games during the same time slot, so maybe item #2 means absolutely nothing. Item #1 seems to be a strong indicator when paired with #2 because ABC generally does not coexist with FSN. It would also be surprising that a Red River game would be at 12pm because it would leave the evening Big 12 slot empty (FSN is not planning to do a PAC-10 or Big 12 game that evening).

But its worth keeping an eye on...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Negotiating a larger conference.

So it seems inevitable that the PAC-10 will move to an increasingly larger size. And if it hits the size of 16, and a decision is made not to do a championship game at 16, negotiating TV contracts will take on a life of their own.

If, as many have reported, that the divisions will be split geographically, we'll be operating essentially with two unique eight team conferences with some crossover. As I've stated, I don't believe that taking a PAC-16 as a single entity will be easy for a single TV partner, using OTA and cable means, to handle.

So what should Larry Scott do? In my opinion, he needs to negotiate each division separately. The Pacific coast schools have always felt that they were underrepresented on TV, so go ahead and negotiate those schools to play on ESPN after the SEC evening games and get them a slot on ABC. Maybe continue to use FSN for a remaining set of games. Then for the Central/Mountain schools negotiate separately, maybe with FSN or Versus, and with ABC and/or FOX. But make sure that the conference can at least overlap each other on cable/OTA when games are aired from different divisions. Or if games are going to air on ABC, at least allow for both divisions to have games air at the same time on a regional basis. If the goal is to get as many games national TV as possible, there will be a need to negotiate with as many as possible. Feeding 16 mouths will require a lot of creativity, and that's not even considering a conference based network.

The point is that with the PAC-10 or however large it gets is that it cannot negotiate itself as a single entity if it goes beyond twelve members. If they repeat the mistakes of the current contract where cable and OTA have exclusive windows for the entire conference, maybe where 7-8 games air on a weekend but only 50% air on TV, the PAC-10 expansion will be an abject, expensive failure.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Boise Steps Up in (Economic) Class

Since the move to the Mountain West by Boise St. is largely an independent move when compared to the chaos of the Big 12, Big Ten and PAC-10, I think its a worthwhile discussion to look at where the MWC and WAC go, TV-wise.

Concentrating on the Mountain West, we'll have to wait and see what they decide to do regarding a conference schedule. Having more conference games does lead to a TV package that keeps more in-house value. Many home OOC games from lesser AQ teams and most non-AQ teams are chosen for TV based on that road team and can end up being a showcase for that road team.

Boise St. will at the end of the day make approximately 2x-3x more money from the MWC TV deal with CBS College Sports. The local TV games moving from a new contract with Learfield Sports with the local outlet KTVB to the mtn. is a plus for the Broncos on a national level and the mtn. is available on Cable One in Boise. CBS College, nationally, is a wash because it has comparable viewership to ESPNU. Based on the channel lineup I saw for Cable One, CBS College will need to be added, probably before the Broncos play at Wyoming this season. Versus is in less homes nationally, but is carried on Cable One.

To fit an extra team into the MWC, I think you could see 1-2 more games on both CBS College and Versus for the conference. The mtn. does many tripleheaders, so the time may be now for the MWC to consider a syndication package for 5-6 games. Video streaming should also become a priority, along with getting the mtn. on Dish Network. Increasing the MWC footprint so that Idaho is considered home territory for the mtn. should be a priority with the DirecTV contract.

As for the WAC, I expect it to take a hit. Boise St.'s success (and to a lesser extent, Hawai'i's run to the BCS in 2008) brought the WAC a better TV contract starting in 2010 (some portions of the contract started in 2009). Over the time that ESPN began televising the WAC with Boise St. as a member, BSU has appear in 40% of all WAC controlled ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 telecasts and since 2008, the number rises to 50%.

The ability to choose BSU is a big deal for ESPN. I believe it would be enough of a significant change in membership to ask for the WAC's contract to be reopened, possibly to lessen the number of WAC football telecasts and decrease the rights fee it will pay going forward, currently set at $4 million per year.

Craig Thompson, the MWC commissioner, mentioned that we're dealing with conference realignment in real-time and things are very fluid. The MWC may not be done.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

PAC-10 making waves

Let get down to the issues at hand...

Now that Colorado has been officially announced as the
11th member of the PAC-10 conference, let's been clear how this affects the Big 12 and PAC-10 conference TV contracts at this moment.

Zero effect.

PAC-10 will not see Colorado until 2012 FB season, so the PAC-10's current contracts will have expired and have been renegotiated with Colorado and whomever else the PAC-10 adds to the conference. Same with the Big 12's current deals, at least through 2010 and 2011. The FSN deal will have expired, but the ABC deal will have a few more years on it. Whether the Big 12 sticks around as a viable entity or not remains to be seen.

I'm not even going to speculate on PAC-10 Networks or possible TV alignments for the conference since it looks like the PAC-10 is only in Aisle 2 at the grocery store.

Now to the
case against USC. There are some revenue items to consider.

1) Depending how bad USC is based on the scholarship losses, ABC and FSN could elect to televise fewer USC games. The PAC-10 does not share TV revenues equally, so if USC appears less on TV, they'll bring in less money.

That may happen for only one season. USC has 12 of their 13 games slated for national TV. The UCLA game will appear either on ABC. FSN or Versus, but the Washington St. game will only be a local telecast.

2) The Kraft Fights Hunger Bowl (formerly the Emerald Bowl) is the last bowl in the PAC-10 pecking order. USC could have enough wins but not be eligible, so unless the PAC-10 has six NCAA bowl eligible teams, that bowl could likely go vacant for the conference. By not filling the bowl, the PAC-10 could lose out on any revenues that they would receive by sending a a team to the game. USC's W-L record for 2010 will still count in the standings and towards other teams' records for bowl purposes.

There has been no mention of a TV ban and I wouldn't expect USC to be banned from TV, as it would harm schools outside of USC as ABC and FSN would likely request some form of relief from the PAC-10 in terms of the rights fees they have paid to the conference.

Monday, June 7, 2010

No games on Versus for Big 12, FSN to benefit

Confirmed by the Big 12 office today (they were kinda busy last week), the Big 12 will no longer have games on Versus. The games that were previously sublicensed from FSN to Versus will appear on FSN. May have been a side effect of the PAC-10 moving their 7pm windows to the Versus sublicensed games and FSN taking games at 3:30pm and 10:30pm. The Big 12 office indicated that it was FSN's choice to bring these games back to FSN.

Here's the current FSN telecast schedule. All times Eastern:

Saturday 9/4 Illinois vs. Missouri 12:30pm
Saturday 9/4 Washington St. at Oklahoma St. 7pm
Saturday 9/11 Georgia Tech at Kansas 12pm
Saturday 9/11 Colorado at California 3:30pm
Saturday 9/11 Wyoming at Texas 7pm
Saturday 9/11 Virginia at USC 10:30pm
Saturday 9/18 Iowa St. vs Kansas St. 12pm
Saturday 9/18 Air Force at Oklahoma 3:30pm
Saturday 9/18 Houston at UCLA 10:30pm
Saturday 9/25 Oregon at Arizona St., 10:30pm
Saturday 10/2 Big 12 12:30pm
Saturday 10/2 Georgia at Colorado, 4:30pm
Saturday 10/9 Texas Tech vs. Baylor 12pm
Saturday 10/9 PAC-10 3:30pm
Saturday 10/9 Big 12 7pm
Thursday 10/14 Kansas St. at Kansas 7:30pm
Saturday 10/16 Big 12 12pm
Saturday 10/16 California at USC 3:30pm
Saturday 10/16 Big 12 7pm
Saturday 10/23 Big 12 12:30pm
Saturday 10/23 Big 12 7pm
Saturday 10/30 Big 12 12pm
Saturday 10/30 PAC-10 3:30pm
Saturday 10/30 Big 12 7pm
Saturday 11/6 Big 12 12:30pm
Saturday 11/6 Big 12 7pm
Saturday 11/6 Arizona St. at USC 10:30pm
Saturday 11/13 Big 12 12:30pm
Saturday 11/13 Big 12 7pm
Saturday 11/20 Big 12 12pm
Saturday 11/20 Stanford at California 3:30pm
Saturday 11/20 Big 12 7pm
Friday 11/26 UCLA at Arizona St. 3:30pm
Saturday 11/27 Kansas vs. Missouri 12:30pm
Saturday 12/4 PAC-10 10:30pm

And here's the Versus schedule. Currently it is MWC and PAC-10 games. Could see some Ivy League games too. EDIT: Ivy League games added as of 6/9/10. Again, all times Eastern:

Thursday 9/2 Pitt at Utah 8:30pm
Saturday 9/4 Wisconsin at UNLV 11pm
Saturday 9/11 BYU at Air Force 4pm
Saturday 9/18 Baylor at TCU 4:30pm
Saturday 10/2 Navy at Air Force 2:30pm
Saturday 10/9 PAC-10 7pm
Saturday 10/16 BYU at TCU 4pm
Saturday 10/16 PAC-10 7:30pm
Saturday 10/30 PAC-10 7pm
Saturday 11/6 Penn at Princeton 3pm
Saturday 11/6 PAC-10 7pm
Saturday 11/13 Brown at Dartmouth 12pm
Saturday 11/13 San Diego St. at TCU 4pm
Saturday 11/13 PAC-10 7:30pm
Saturday 11/20 Yale at Harvard 12pm
Saturday 11/27 TCU at New Mexico 4pm
Saturday 11/27 PAC-10 7:30pm
Saturday 12/4 PAC-10 7pm

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More Rambling About Conference Realignment

We now have the rumors that either Nebraska or both Nebraska and Missouri have been given ultimatums by the rest of the Big 12 to make up their minds regarding whether they are going to seek membership in the Big Ten or remain with the Big 12. Let's look at all four scenarios

1) Both affirm their allegiance to the Big 12 - It doesn't kill Big Ten expansion but it really weakens the pool of candidates and the focus for the Big Ten moves to the Big East. It does stop a massive PAC-10 expansion, but Colorado and Utah could become targets again. Then again, it might kill PAC-10 expansion completely.

2 & 3) One stays and one goes - If this happens, its Missouri going and Nebraska staying. It won't be the other way around. I believe Missouri already has one foot out the door. And as Berry Tramel of the The Oklahoma writes, losing Missouri isn't that big of a deal. The Big 12 can stay alive without Mizzou and attempt to bring in whomever it chooses and it won't be Arkansas.

4) Both decide to leave - Texas, despite being the Big 12's heavy, seems to need Nebraska as a foil. We know that Oklahoma does, even though the schools don't play each other in FB every season. This is the scenario that allows the PAC-10 to go fishing, though as I've stated it's a scenario that I feel is ill-conceived.

There's a few other considerations to think about. Kansas, and its storied men's basketball program, looks like its on the outside looking in with many of these scenarios. The Big Ten hasn't mentioned the Jayhawks as an option, though they and Iowa St. meet the all-important criteria of AAU membership.

Kansas, Baylor, Kansas St. and Iowa St. have each pledged their loyaties to the Big 12 remaining as a viable conference. But these schools could be in for a long legal battle if everybody else runs to another conference. Most conferences do require some form of revenue garnishment for schools on their ways out the door. So if all eight schools leave, will any of them decide to litigate against the Big 12 to keep those four remaining schools from getting a massive revenue payday? And what do these four schools decide to do? Merge with an existing conference, go their separate ways or is there another strategy.

Get your popcorn ready.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Quick Thought About PAC-10 Expansion Rumors

I'm not naive, but I'm really not sure that anything is going to come out of the PAC-10 meetings, short of a PAC-10 network.

I suppose I need to see some better sources than team sites.

Here's a question that everyone needs to think about: How does Texas & Oklahoma moving west, having 1-2 games on the west coast every year, help their visibility? Sticking them in a division with the Arizona schools, who are on Pacific time during September-October portion of FB season, isn't cool.

Next, who is going to bid on a 16 team all-sports monstrosity, at least on cable? ESPN doesn't have the room to carry them, and they are only carrying the PAC-10 games now by moving them to 10:30pm and 11:15pm ET? Even if the PAC-16 took over most of the Big 12's ESPN MBK slots, each team would not be on TV enough (more teams, same number of slots). The more teams you have, the more money you require from a TV partner up front to keep everybody's mouths fed.

Since the talk is about what OU, TX would stand to gain, do the existing PAC-10 schools gain anything? USC is still going to be playing the lions share of its games out west, are they gaining any extra exposure? Same with UCLA basketball.

Everybody can want $22 million in rights fees from TV partners for a year, but you have to find someone able to provide that for 16 teams, or at least find enough TV partners to make up that amount. The PAC-10, like the Big 12, does not share revenue equally and it is my understanding that the PAC-10's formula for revenue distribution differs from the Big 12's.

OU, UT, USC, UCLA, WA, UO and others...that's a lot of egos in the room to supress.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

ESPN finalizes more early season games

ESPN made an announcement of several telecasts from several conferences, most from the ACC, Big East and SEC today. Looks like the SEC will some remaining slots on ESPNU that have not been filled, along with their slots on Fox Sports South and CSS.

The ACC's release also included games syndicated by Raycom.

It also looks like will become desitination viewing for fans of several teams. Almost all of the ACC will have at least one of their games in the 1st three weeks as part of this package with the exceptions being Florida St. and North Carolina. Games from the Big East, MAC and WAC will also be available on the service early in the season.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

PAC-10 National TV Schedule Finalized

We were able to get this from the PAC-10, though it is not official. The conference has to vote to allow for 4:30pm PT start times, though they should be a formality.

September 11 Colorado at California (12:30 PM PT, FSN)
September 11 Virginia at USC (7:30 PM PT, FSN)
September 11 Stanford at UCLA (7:30 PM PT, ESPN)
September 18 Nebraska at Washington (12:30 PM PT, ABC)
September 18 Iowa at Arizona (7:30 PM PT, ESPN)
September 18 Houston at UCLA (7:30 PM PT, FSN)
September 18 Wake Forest at Stanford (8:15 PM PT, ESPN2)
September 25 Oregon at Arizona State (7:30 PM PT, FSN)
October 2 Washington at USC (5:00 PM PT, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
October 2 Stanford at Oregon (8:15 PM PT, ESPN)
October 9 TBD (12:30 PM PT, FSN)
October 9 TBD (4:00 PM PT, Versus)
October 9 USC at Stanford (5:00 PM PT, ABC)
October 16 California at USC (12:30 PM PT, FSN)
October 16 TBD (4:30 PM PT, Versus)
October 16 TBD (7:15 PM PT, ESPN)
October 21 UCLA at Oregon (6:00 PM PT, ESPN)
October 23 TBD (12:30 PM PT, ABC)
October 30 TBD (12:30 PM PT, FSN)
October 30 TBD (4:00 PM PT, Versus)
October 30 Oregon at USC (5:00 PM PT, ABC)
November 6 TBD (12:30 PM PT, ABC)
November 6 TBD (4:00 PM PT, Versus)
November 6 TBD (7:15 PM PT, ESPN)
November 6 Arizona State at USC (7:30 PM PT, FSN)
November 13 TBD (4:30 PM PT, Versus)
November 13 USC at Arizona (5:00 PM PT, ABC)
November 18 UCLA at Washington (5:00 PM PT, ESPN)
November 20 Stanford at California (12:30 PM PT, FSN)
November 20 USC at Oregon State (5:00 PM PT, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
November 26 UCLA at Arizona State (12:30 PM PT, FSN)
November 26 Arizona at Oregon (4:00 PM PT, ESPN)
November 27 TBD (4:30 PM PT, Versus)
November 27 Notre Dame at USC (5:00 PM PT, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
December 2 Arizona State at Arizona (5:00 PM PT, ESPN)
December 4 TBD (12:30 PM PT, ABC)
December 4 TBD (4:00 PM PT, Versus)
December 4 TBD (7:30 PM PT, FSN)

A few interesting items:
  • FSN will not use any 6:30pm or 7pm ET windows on the PAC-10. In the past, these windows were often blocked by pro sports, making it tough for the east coast viewer to find the game. Versus will use this window for all of their telecasts. FSN, based on the 1st couple weeks of the season, will use the window for some Big 12 games.
  • Versus has usually had the ability to pre-select most of the games for the PAC-10. This year none of their windows are pre-filled.
  • USC's game at Washington St. will not be available for a national telecast. The last time USC had games that were not on national TV were in 2001 when they had games on FSN West 2 and part of the FSN syndication package. I would expect the game to air somewhere since the regional FSNs will have space available on 9/25/10.
  • Washington St. will be the only team that does not have a game pre-selected for TV as part of the PAC-10 contract. They will have two road games on TV as part of the Big 12 and C-USA packages.

Early season selections, Part One

Maybe there won't be this big schedule release day like we've seen in past years.

The Big Ten put its early season television selections in motion before the Memorial Day weekend. Schedule looks about as normal as it can for them. Maybe not as packed on the Big Ten Network for the 12pm games as in past seasons, but 9/25 will have plenty.

The Big 12's list came out of their 1st day of their spring meetings, which promise to be interesting based on the 800 lb gorilla known as Big Ten expansion. I am impressed that FSN was able to pick up some very worthwhile games (Georgia Tech-Kansas, Illinois-Missouri). Two things I found interesting:
  1. FSN will do their 1st Thursday night midseason game (Kansas St. at Kansas on October 14), on a national basis, since they had the rights to Conference USA. East Carolina vs. Louisville, 10/19/00. Their last Thursday night game was Wake Forest vs. Baylor on 8/28/08.
  2. Versus was not listed anywhere on the press release, except for the Baylor game at TCU (Versus being a quasi-rightsholder of the Mountain West). Waiting for an answer to a query about whether Versus will continue to remain a place to find some Big 12 games throughout the year.

The PAC-10's list may be in process of being released. Part one was a surprise with several FSN games being released. Part two so far has been a single game, released fairly late in the day on July 1st (Arizona St. at USC on FSN). My expectation is that even if no other games are selected, the PAC-10 will release a list of telecast windows for the three remaining FSN windows and all seven Versus windows, as they've done in the past.

So what is left? Here's a conference-by-conference look:

ACC - I expect a ton of listings, even if most of them involve the service because of a lack of really good games to pick up. ABC, ESPN Networks and Raycom will be making the choices. As for details on their rights agreement, I'm not sure I would expect that until the ACC Media Days since that may be the next time ACC and ESPN representatives will be gathered in the same place.

Big 12 - Now that the big boys picked their games, there will likely be a game on Fox College Sports and games on pay-per-view, but those will come out throughout the summer.

Big East - Outside of the Maryland-West Virginia and Kentucky-Louisville games, there isn't much to choose from. Some schools will probably opt for local/regional telecasts and those may not be announced until later in the summer.

C-USA - The CSS list of games and other local telecasts will trickle out through the summer. Would expect the CSS list by their media day.

MAC - Should be local/regional telecasts from here on out with the packages from ESPN+ and Fox Sports Ohio/Detroit along with others.

PAC-10 - Once the remaining national windows are announecd, teams will begin to piece together times where they can offer local/regional telecasts.

SEC - A full list. CBS typically doesn't do games the 1st two weeks of the season because of its US Open tennis coverage, so ESPN Networks and the conference's regional cable & syndication packages will be in full effect. Also expect plent of pay-per-view opportunities. Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reported that the conference is still trying to give Alabama some scheduling relief, so their schedule isn't officially set in stone.

Sun Belt - Waiting on the Sun Belt Network slate of games and possibly an ESPNU game.

WAC - Expecting local telecasts from now on. ESPNU picked up a WAC game for its 1st three weeks and that should be the extent of their selections