This came up in my head when replying to Sean's comments in the previous post and I think it needs to be noted when comparing ESPN to any other possible rightsholder. And please don't think I'm tipping my hand on Part Three. I haven't written it yet and I'm still drawing out what to do.
There's an ESPN, and there's an ESPN2. Two channels.
There isn't a Versus 2 (yet), FSN or F/X 2 (though they could be considered tandem networks), CBS College Sports 2. TNT, TruTV and TBS sometimes act in tandem, but the networks have clear branding and entertainment purposes.
So when we say 64 basketball games over two networks (94 over three if you want to add in ESPNU numbers), that doesn't always translate to being able to provide 64 games over one network. There's only 24 hours in a day and only so many time slots available. Particularly when basketball is a sport that is played over virtually every night of the week.
Its easier to do with football. Even though the timeslot is larger by, on average, 1.5 hours, there's only one game a week per team. Networks have open time on the weekends. More flexibility.
Timeslot and location matters too. FSN can do 46 regular season Pac-10 basketball games today (it will be less starting in 2012-13) because they televise one game later on Thursday, then 1-2 on the weekend. They are outside of pro sports windows for the majority of the NHL and NBA cities. They schedule well too by doing Thursdays when the NBA has their exclusive TNT window.
Just food for thought.