Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CFB TV Scheduling Update, 6/28/2011

Because I feel the need to write something....

It's the very end of the 2010-11 athletic year so I suspect some college administrators and maybe some TV folks are laying low.  On Friday, the athletic calendar turns to 2011-12 which does mean some realignment will occur (Boise St., BYU, Colorado, Nebraska and Utah: welcome to your new homes in FBS; same to you Savannah St. in FCS, moving football into existing all-sports conferences Old Dominion & Lamar, plus startup program UTSA).   Expect some college athletic websites to transition over to new hosts as Nevada, Ohio St., Minnesota, Army and Missouri St. transition over to the CBS College Network, which could also mean downtime.  I'll probably keep track of that on Friday as its been a day to redesign or fire up a new website host in prior years. 

Here's what we're waiting on, conference by conference, regarding some final TV decisions for the 1st few weeks

ACC - Nothing major.  The regional cable package will have some Fox Sports affiliates and probably at least one Comcast Sports affiliate.  Because of the Comcast negotiations with Raycom, some FCS conferences like the CAA are waiting to set their TV schedules.

Big 12 - Regional/local/PPV/FOX College Sports games.  There's a few open holes, namely one at 3:30pm ET on 9/3.  Sounds like the Rice at Texas game is targeted to the Longhorn Network and that would enable other schools to make plans for regional, PPV or FOX College Sports games on that day.  But if it becomes an ABC game, it becomes an exclusive TV window and pushes everything outside of that window.

Big East - Local games and/or ESPN3.com exclusives.  After the Wake Forest-Syracuse game was moved to Thursday for ESPN3.com (bleh), teams are likely working with ESPN and/or regional networks to air games.

Big Ten - Making the official announcement that Nebraska's games vs. Chattanooga & Fresno St. will air on BTN.  Widely alluded to during interviews with BTN and Big Ten staff, but both sides want Nebraska's cable systems on board with how the network is distributed in other Big Ten states.

C-USA - Removing of "TBA" from the kickoff times of several games, plus addition of some local/regional telecasts, notably for East Carolina.  Most of the FSN game times are known or have been found, but the CSS games are likely waiting on finalizing of the SEC's regional TV schedule (see below).

Independent - Besides the rumored move of the Air Force-Navy game to CBS (its apparently being discussed), I don't have a great feeling as to whether all BYU kick times will be known before the season or not.  Four home games are TBA.  At least one game must be televised by ESPNU.  Maybe ESPN would release the Idaho St. game to BYUtv so they can work on televising that one.

MAC - Maybe a few regional telecasts from Northern Illinois and any announcement regarding a conference web-streaming package such as the All-MACcess package offered previously.

MWC - Nothing.  Everything is in place.

Pac-12 - A fair number of games during the 1st three weeks are waiting for local carriers to pick them up.  Only one has been finalized, UCLA's home game vs. San Jose St.

SEC - The ESPNU, CSS, Fox Sports regional and institutional packages (PPV or other distribution means).  These often come out at the SEC media day.

Sun Belt - The Sun Belt Network regional package.  CSS helps in production of these games, so while they might announce the package of games, the kick times, along with the C-USA slate of CSS games, may have to wait until the SEC's games are decided.

WAC - Maybe a few ESPNU games, plus the Hawai'i PPV package and the AggieVision games for New Mexico St.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sports Business Journal CFB Hightlights: Longhorn Network, Versus' New Brand

Couple items from the great staff at Sports Business Journal

* Longhorn Network: Still negotiating
  • 40 cents per sub
  • In market states: TX, OK, LA & NM
  • Negotiations ongoing with several cable operators, including Time Warner & Verizon
  • Selling equity in the network may not be needed as originally thought
  • ESPN would like to get rights to a 2nd football game.  FOX Sports Media Group might be willing to deal if they can sublicense a Big 12 football game to FOX from ABC.
* Versus' New Name
  • Rebranding not likely to occur until New Years of 2012
  • Should have the NBC name in it
  • RSNs will remain under the Comcast name instead of transitioning over
  • Golf Channel could receive a modified title
  • The channel was branded as "NBC Sports Cable" in presentation to the IOC when successfully bidding on Olympic rights earlier this month, but was considered a placeholder name

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Site Updates for the week ending Friday 6/22

Starting this for the time being so that you can catch up on site updates while I take a self-imposed break from Twitter, Facebook and a few message boards.

-Added Ivy League TV schedule from Versus
-Patriot League and CBS Sports Network sign an extension.  The Patriot League MBK Championship will now air on CBS Sports Network and at least two football games from the conference will air per season.
-Several FSN times for the Big 12 and C-USA appear to have been finalized per a production schedule.  C-USA games for 9/10 and a couple Big 12 games on 9/24 and 10/1 appear to have been set.
-Updated FlexWindows spreadsheet for both FSMG and Versus
-Oklahoma vs. Texas confirmed for noon ET start for 10/8 on ABC.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Flex Windows for 2011

When I changed some of the internal programming on the main website, I noted that I probably wouldn't show tentative game windows on the list for FBS conferences going forward.  Without getting into great detail, it wouldn't be ideal for me to do so.

What I've done instead is create an Excel spreadsheet with the possible game windows on ABC, CBS, ESPN Networks, FSN & F/X, Versus, CBS Sports Network and "Regional" (encompassing the Raycom and ESPN Regional syndicated games).   Some slots have been listed as "Open" meaning that the slot could be filled, "N/A" means the slot will be empty due to other programming or a lack of available games.  In some cases parenthesis have been put around the option in a slot indicating that is who is likely to fill a slot.

If you have any questions or concerns, let me know.  I'll be updating this throughout the season and links should be available on each week's page.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Take a deep breath on a Notre Dame Network

Over the past month, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has given multiple interviews and the topic of conference and school TV networks comes up.  And in each interview, Swarbrick has indicated that  Notre Dame is indeed working on something. Here's one of those interviews.  Before we go absolutely bonkers over another school doing a network, let's look at some key items in Swarbrick's interview.

1) Swarbrick touts the increased availability of broadband internet in homes as a reason to start this network.  Not TV, but internet.  And that's a huge thing to keep in mind.  Notre Dame does well in some eastern and midwestern urban areas, but the fan base is so spread out across the nation that its extremely tough to justify a 24/7 television network.

2) It likely wouldn't have football games, at least not live games.  Probably wouldn't have men's basketball games either except for a handful of home non-conference games.  Notre Dame makes enough money through the television contracts with NBC for football and ESPN via its membership in the Big East.  Notre Dame's other competitive programs (women's basketball, baseball and hockey) have some games on TV, but the vast majority are streamed for free via http://UND.com.  Those sports, along with archived football games, are what would be covered on a Notre Dame network and that's what they want to make money on.  Coaches shows and press conferences could also be content.

So what it looks like Notre Dame wants to do is take that coverage from their athletics website and find ways to generate revenue from it.  Swarbrick notes that increased broadband internet is what he wants to exploit, but remember that it isn't just the increased available delivery method, its the increased number of devices that can be exploited too.  Broadband internet isn't just a laptop or a desktop computer, its a tablet like an iPad, various smartphone platforms and home entertainment options like Roku, Xbox and Playstation 3.  Internet ready televisions are on the market, ready to take the internet as a valid delivery method to the next level.  Being multi-platform using broadband internet is what Swarbrick must look to maximize to get a Notre Dame network to the masses.

I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this one too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rambling Thoughts...

..because I'm not expecting much TV scheduling news for the next 4-6 weeks when conference media days start to crank up.  Most of this stuff revolves around the schools out west, so no one can accuse me of east coast bias ;).

* BYU's football independence begins in a little over two weeks.  I look over my followers on Twitter and I have a fair number of BYU fans, so I'm grateful for that.  Never met any of them in person, so I can only go on my personal interactions on message boards and through social networking, but I've had decent interactions with them and not every interaction has been regarding sports. 

I believe their independence will be a relative success, but also feel there will be some growing pains in scheduling.  I've seen the recent reports from those who claim to be BYU insiders who have had reports regarding contact with the Big East for membership and various future opponents (Syracuse, Penn St., Wisconsin and Nebraska I believe were all mentioned).

I guess what I'm trying to get across is that I think we all learned something from last year's realignments and that these massive scenarios that could have happened eventually did not.  I fear that BYU fans, if these series do not come to fruition, could feel massively let down.  If I'm wrong though, it wouldn't be the first time, and that's OK.

* Somewhat related to the BYU item above is that the Pac-12, with some exceptions, will strongly encourage members to play all non-conference home games in September.  BYU might have been looking towards the Pac-12 to schedule games later in the year, specifically the game vs. Utah.

My concern revolves around the playing of Notre Dame during the week before the conference championship game.  Since USC or Stanford typically host the Irish that week, that leaves one Pac-12 team either open or playing a non-conference game (in 2011, Arizona hosts UL-Lafayette).  If there is a rule that all Pac-12 teams must compete the week before the conference championship game, then someone does have juggling to do.  If this is not the case and someone could possibly have a bye week entering the conference championship, they need to close that loophole like the SEC did a few years ago.

* The WAC's addition of a non-football school in Seattle doesn't help them.  If the WAC was turned down by Montana because they wouldn't invite Montana St. in tandem, they need to re-evaluate things because right now they need members.  As I understand it, they are in FBS limbo starting in 2012-13.  Not enough members to be considered a BCS conference (when I say BCS, I mean specifically that they could qualify a team for a BCS bowl, not that they are an automatic qualifying conference) but enough members overall to remain a viable D-I conference.  It will be interesting to see if the conference or any of its members receives a cut of any BCS revenues that year.  In 2012, according to ESPN's Andrea Adelson, the conference will have less bowl-tie ins than the Sun Belt with just the Humanitarian Bowl staying with the WAC.

* The startup of Pac-12 Media Enterprises for the 2012-13 athletic year means that another conference is going to try to monetize their digital rights in some fashion.  Notice I said another.  The Pac-12 isn't doing anything new, at least on the surface, compared to a fair number of non-AQ and FCS conferences.  If you look back on my schedules site over the past few years, you'll see plenty of games hosted by these schools and the schools and/or conferences charging a fee (some do offer games free of charge) for streaming of football, baseketball and other events, usually synced up to a radio call.  The Pac-12 looks like it will be the 1st AQ conference to collectively attempt to get paid for these games in the USA.  The Big Ten Network has done some limited streaming of events here in the states for sports outside of football and they've also had a package available overseas.

What I do expect to be different, when compared to the vast majority of video streaming seen in the US for these conferences, is a completely professional production.  No disrespect to the existing streaming options, but they typically involve syncing up a radio call with the scoreboard video feed.  Sometimes it involves a local TV feed, but nothing in great detail.  That's where I expect the Pac-12 to set the bar much higher than the standard everyone else has been meeting thus far.

* Last but not least, I kinda hope that ESPN3.com finds a way to get the regional games produced by ESPN Regional TV and Raycom in HD.  I'm pretty sure I've watched SEC Network, Big East Network and Raycom games in HD or at least a widescreen format when it was ESPN360.com.  I know last year all I saw were standard definition aspect ratio, except for games airing on the national ESPN platforms & regionally on ABC.  Dear ESPN, please fix this.  Thanks.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

C-USA, CBS Sports Network & Fox Sports CFB Schedules

Fox Sports - Fox Sports Media Group will air around 60 football games in 2011-12 from the Big 12, Conference USA and Pac-12. C-USA games were announced earlier this week and some Big 12 and Pac-12 games were announced, along with possible Pac-12 telecast windows. Here's the schedule.  Note that the 9/24 F/X game is incorrect and should be Missouri at Oklahoma.

as of today.  This schedule does not include the possibility of SEC, ACC and Pac-12 games airing on a regional basis.

Early afternoon is typically a 12pm or 12:30pm ET start, mid-afternoon is 3:30pm or 4pm, primetime is 6:30pm or 7pm and late evening is after 10pm.

CBS Sports Network - It is mostly complete, but as a few C-USA fans astutely noticed, CBSSN is scheduled to carry a minimum of 20 C-USA games.  There are 20 games involving C-USA teams on CBSSN, but typically football contracts cover home games only and do not dictate that a network has to pick up road OOC games or that they count in a contract. Per an exchange with C-USA on Twitter, road out of conference games can count towards the minimum 20 games on CBSSN.

Also, CBSSN has a contract with the Patriot League and last year broadcast one football game in October from the conference, which might explain the opening on 10/15/11 at 3:30pm.  I also included the six Division II Thursday night games, though I do not list Division II games except for playoffs on my site.

Here's the schedule

Primetime is a game starting between 7pm & 8pm.  Late Evening refers to any game after 10pm.

C-USA - The reason why you are seeing these schedules is that the Judge William Pauley has set several dates with respect to the ESPN vs. C-USA civil trial:
  • Completion of written discovery & document exchange: 7/15/11
  • Deadline for disclosing of expert witnesses: 9/9/11
  • Completion of all discovery & depositions: 9/30/11
  • Pre-motion conference: 10/12/11
  • Joint pretrial order: 10/31/11
  • Final pretrial conference: 11/4/11
C-USA's lawyers had requested a discovery phase to last the entire football season, ESPN wanted it completed by 7/15/11.  This schedule basically confirmed to the conference that they could go ahead with their plans to announce the TV schedule as it stands today.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Early Season TV Schedule Analysis

With all but the early season selections for the Big Ten announced, let's take a look at what the schedule appears to be.

Week 1
* If it holds true that the ABC and BTN will be able to coexist, expect one ESPN/ESPN2 game from the conference at 12pm, one reverse mirror game on ABC at 3:30pm.  The two games in play are Western Michigan at Michigan & Akron at Ohio St.  I don't see either FCS vs. Big Ten game being taken and they'll go somewhere on BTN at 12pm or 3:30pm.
* UCLA at Houston is on FSN, but the time slot was either 3:30pm or 10pm.  10pm seemed rather far fetched and now that FSN & ABC left the 3:30pm window Big 12open, maybe 10pm is possible but it really doesn't feel right.
* Minnesota at USC should end up in the ABC reverse mirror with a Big Ten game.
* East Carolina vs. South Carolina or FAU at Florida are the choices for the ESPNU 7pm game.  The other game could end up on CSS or FSN Regional.  The rest seem destined for PPV.
* Rice at Texas was selected for TV and could be the Longhorn Network game.  The Big 12 release said it was selected for TV, but no network determination was made.  I suppose if it cannot be released to LN, ABC could end up with it and put it at 3:30pm.  Could be why the window was left open and if it goes to ABC, it may affect when other schools do any PPV/regional/local telecasts in the Big 12 that weekend.

Week 2
* Big Ten should fill both ESPN/ESPN2, plus I expect Alabama-Penn St. to be national in the ABC 3:30pm slot.  The other two games should be on BTN at 12pm.
* With Alabama-Penn St. likely on ABC nationally, plus ESPN2 and ESPN individually carrying games on that day in mid-afternoon, there will not be a reverse mirror.
* The SEC could fill the 12pm ESPNU slot in addition to their 7pm weekly slot.  With two more FBS vs. SEC games, both CSS and FSN Regional should have evening games.
* FSN is free, for now, nationally after the 12pm game (Iowa-Iowa St.).  Could see at least one C-USA game plus several Pac-12 games in a regional slot. 

Week 3
* ABC will have a pair of national games at 12pm (Auburn-Clemson) and 8pm (either Oklahoma-Florida St. or Ohio St.-Miami (FL)) in addition to a regional game/reverse mirror window at 3:30pm between Texas-UCLA and a Big Ten game, likely Pittsburgh-Iowa orWashington-Nebraska.
* Whichever game ABC doesn't take for the 8pm slot will be on ESPN at 7:30pm.
* Depending on matchups, ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU could carry two Big Ten games at 12pm.  West Virginia-Maryland is already in this time slot to be carried on one of those three networks.
* In addition to Syracuse-USC on either FSN or FX in the evening, I believe that Oklahoma St.-Tulsa is in the running for the FX slot.  Whomever doesn't go on FX at 8pm gets the 6:30pm FSN slot.
* Penn St.-Temple and/or Wisconsin-Northern Illinois could end up on ESPN3.com exclusively or on ESPN Regional through the MAC's tv package.
* If the Big Ten doesn't take two ESPN Networks slots at 12pm, the SEC could again take the 12pm ESPNU slot in addition to the 7pm slot.  Then the SEC could have either one or two regional cable slots in the evening.  North Texas at Alabama could also end up on PPV.
* Possible that the WAC takes a late evening ESPNU slot.

CBS will televise the SEC in primetime on October 1st and at 12pm on November 12th.  On 10/1, the SEC's ESPNU slot could be at 12pm along with any regional cable games...The Big East and Big 12 will not have any network television games from their TV contracts during the 1st three weeks of the season...ESPN should have the reverse mirror in week one and week three...All Big 12 games the final two weeks of the season will be televised on either ABC (Texas-Baylor & Oklahoma-Oklahoma St.), ESPN (Texas-Texas A&M), FSN (Iowa St.-Kansas St., Missouri-Kansas, Texas Tech-Baylor) and F/X (Iowa St.-Oklahoma)...ESPN will have two Saturday sublicense windows for the Big 12 remaining after selecting BYU-Texas.

Finally, the remaining F/X football schedule.  All times Eastern.

9/3 - Oklahoma at Tulsa, 8pm
9/10 - Nevada at Oregon, 3:30pm
9/17 - Syracuse at USC or C-USA, 8pm
9/24 - Oklahoma at Missouri, 8pm
10/1 - Big 12, C-USA or Pac-12, TBA
10/8 - Big 12 or C-USA, TBA
10/15 - Big 12 or C-USA, TBA
10/22 - Big 12, C-USA or Pac-12, TBA
10/29 - Big 12, C-USA or Pac-12, TBA
11/5 - Big 12, C-USA or Pac-12, TBA
11/12 - Big 12, C-USA or Pac-12, TBA
11/19 - Big 12 or C-USA, TBA
11/26 - Iowa St. at Oklahoma, 8pm
12/2 - Big 12 or C-USA Championship Game, TBA

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Flex Windows Grid

Because I've decided to make my site more database driven, I've included a link on several pages of my site know as the Flex Windows spreadsheet.  With the Pac-12 windows coming out for FOX Sports Media Group and Versus, there are very few local windows and a fair amount of flexibility as FSMG tries to pick the top game each week for F/X from either the Big 12, Conference USA or Pac-12.  On the spreadsheet there will be sheets for each conference that has a flex window.

As for FX, sounds like their schedule could look something like this if the plan remains one game per week.  All times eastern

9/3 - Big 12 or C-USA, TBA
9/10 - Nevada at Oregon, 3:30pm
9/17 - Syracuse at USC, Big 12 or C-USA, 8pm
9/24 - Big 12 or C-USA, TBA
10/1 - Big 12, C-USA or Pac-12, TBA
10/8 - Big 12 or C-USA, TBA
10/15 - Big 12 or C-USA, TBA
10/22 - Big 12, C-USA or Pac-12, TBA
10/29 - Big 12, C-USA or Pac-12, TBA
11/5 - Big 12, C-USA or Pac-12, TBA
11/12 - Big 12, C-USA or Pac-12, TBA
11/19 - Big 12 or C-USA, TBA
11/26 - Big 12 or C-USA, TBA
12/2 - Big 12 or C-USA Championship Game, TBA