Monday, May 23, 2011

Big East TV Rights: Where I would go

First, lets remember that ESPN (football and men's basketball) and CBS (men's basketball) holds the rights to the conference until 2013 for both sports, so ESPN is the only one that can make the conference an offer until open bidding is available on the rights, sometime in 2012.  Also remember that the existing contracts are separated by sport, with football separate from men's basketball.

I believe this is going to be a two horse race, if the conference gets to open bidding on its rights and that would be my preference as it worked for the ACC and Pac-12.  ESPN and Comcast would be the two entities.

The 1st item to take care of is the financials.  At a minimum, my goal would be to make sure each football playing member makes $11 million and each basketball school makes $3 million from TV.   Based on my earlier projects of the current deal, that would get the football schools a 2.75x increase in revenue and the basketball schools nearly the same proportional increase.  In total, that would mean that Big East should start their negotiations at $123 million.

Now to stay ESPN and CBS for the packages they currently have, I don't need many changes with men's basketball.  Give me the same amount of games on ESPN/ESPN2 and CBS in both packages.  
  • Up the number of regular season games on ESPN/ESPN2 from 49 to 53 to account for TCU's addition
  • Of those 53, 45 should be conference games on ESPN/ESPN2
  • An increase of one conference games on CBS
  • The ability to consider moving the men's basketball tournament back a day for the possibility of the final on ABC in a doubleheader with the SEC final.
  • ESPNU remains the same at 30
  • No exclusives
Football is a different story.  I need the following assurances from ESPN to stick around with them:
  • ABC picks up eight Big East games per year.  
    • One of those must be on Black Friday, another should be the final week of the season.  
    • Six of the games must be conference games.  
    • One game in primetime per year
  • ESPN/ESPN2 takes fifteen games in this fashion
    • Three Thursday night games
    • Four Friday night games, with at least two of them in doubleheaders with the Pac-12.  One of these games must also be a Black Friday game
    • At least one game on the final week of the season
    • One game on Sunday or Monday of Labor Day weekend
    • At least five games September-November on Saturdays, with one in primetime
    • 12 of the 15 games must be conference games
  • ESPNU takes three games, less than previous years
If ESPN can do that, I'll stay.  If Comcast is my rightsholder, I want the following:
  • NBC
    • Seven games
    • Three doubleheaders with Notre Dame at a minimum
    • Of the seven games, five must be conference games
    • One of the games must be on Black Friday as a doubleheader with the NHL's Black Friday game
    • NBC windows are exclusive
  • Versus
    • 20 games
    • Three Thursday games
    • No Friday games
    • Five primetime games
    • 17 of the games should be conference games.
Notice that I've done nothing with regional telecasts or with online streaming.  I don't believe a 24/7 network is worthwhile and I don't believe that the conference should pool all of those rights.  In basketball, I would work with ESPN Regional to do a package of 12 regional basketball games and nine football games, but not give them any more games beyond that.  This would be the Game of the Week syndication package.  I would request that ESPN Regional do the following:
  • Removal of the SEC regional football package from the New York City market, currently on MSG Network
  • Addition of the the Big East regional packages in Houston and San Antonio (if they aren't already), in addition to the Dallas market for TCU
After that, all conference games not selected (7-10 games in football, 40+ games in men's basketball) would revert to the conference to do either a pay-streaming package through and/or syndicate on their own.  Any non-conference games would go to schools to monetize on their own, either via television or the internet.  In the case of football games the regional & conference packages, they cannot air during an over-the-air television window.  Also, if the tournament were to move forward to a Sunday final, the Big East and/or ESPN Regional should take control of at least the syndication of the 1st and 2nd round games, even if some games become internet-only games.

My thought is that though revenue through the conference package is variable based on interest of a game, many schools have media production departments and the overhead to make money on these games should be minimal.  It does put the onus on the conference and member schools to properly market these packages.  This should allow those schools to generate additional revenues that could put them right near the ACC in terms of TV revenues if the conference receives its minimum revenue targets, plus they have the flexibility to sell the conference-owned package at any time to a partner to produce and market if the conference desires to do that.

Since ESPN has been the primary partner of the conference, I think they have the best shot at keeping the Big East rights.  Comcast is there, and they are hungry and would make the conference its showcase for football.  But I believe that the conference has to take control of its own destiny with the games that ESPN Regional currently owns and find ways to create new revenue streams.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Guessing on a C-USA game draft

Because at some point, the C-USA lawsuit will end...

If I were going to guess how the C-USA "game" draft for FOX Sports Media Group and CBS Sports Network were going to go, it might be something like this:

9/3 UCLA at Houston

9/1 Miss St. at Memphis*
9/10 Virginia Tech at ECU
9/17 Oklahoma St. at Tulsa
9/24 SMU at Memphis (2)
9/29 Houston at UTEP*
10/8 ECU at Houston (2)
10/15 UCF at SMU (2)
10/20 UCF at UAB*
10/22 SMU at Southern Miss (2)
10/27 Rice at Houston*
10/29 Southern Miss at UTEP (2)
11/5 Southern Miss at ECU (2)
11/10 Houton at Tulane*
11/12 UCF at Southern Miss (2)
11/17 Southern Miss at UAB*
11/19 UCF at ECU (2)
11/25 UTEP at UCF*
11/26 Houston at Tulsa (2)
11/26 ECU at Marshall (2)

9/10 Boston College at UCF
9/10 UTEP at SMU
9/17 Tulane at UAB
9/24 Virginia Tech at Marshall
10/1 North Carolina at ECU
10/8 Mississippi St. at UAB
10/15 UTEP at Tulane (2)
10/15 UCF at SMU
10/22 Marshall at Houston (2)
10/29 SMU at Tulsa
11/3 Tulsa at UCF*
11/5 Southern Miss at ECU
11/12 Navy at SMU (2)
11/26 Memphis at Southern Miss (2)
11/26 Rice at SMU (2)

The games with an asterisk have been slated for TV.  From an exchange I had with the Orlando Sentinel's beat writer, it appears that all Thursday & Friday games, except for the Tulsa-UCF game, will be on FSN.

FOX gets the 1st 10 game selections, then CBS Sports Network takes another 10.  After that FOX gets another ten selections, noted with a (2).  I then gave CBS Sports Network more selections after FOX's final ten to fill out several open time slots based on my earlier blog entry.

Also I'm sticking by the original early season selections, which leaves the Purdue-Rice game without national TV.  Suppose it could be changed out for the UTEP-SMU game.
Here's a breakdown by team
ECU - 7
Houston - 6
Marshall - 3
Memphis - 3
Rice - 1
Southern Miss - 7
SMU - 7
Tulane - 3
Tulsa - 4
UAB - 4
UCF - 8
UTEP - 5


Big Ten Primetime Schedule

The Big Ten released the rest of its primetime schedule last night.  Here's the entire primetime schedule

9/1 UNLV at Wisconsin (ESPN, 8pm)
9/2 Youngstown St. at Michigan St. (BTN, 7pm)
9/10 Virginia at Indiana (BTN, 7pm)
9/10 Notre Dame at Michigan (ESPN, 8pm)
9/17 Arizona St. at Illinois (BTN, 7pm)
9/24 North Dakota St. at Minnesota (BTN, 7pm)
10/1 Nebraska at Wisconsin (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 8pm)
10/1 Notre Dame at Purdue (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 8pm)
10/8 Michigan at Northwestern (BTN, 7pm)
10/8 Ohio St. at Nebraska (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 8pm)*
10/15 Northwestern at Iowa (BTN, 7pm)
10/22 Penn St. at Northwestern (BTN, 7pm)*
10/22 Wisconsin at Michigan St. (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 8pm)*
10/29 Wisconsin at Ohio St. (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 8pm)*


That doesn't include the conference championship game which is expected to air in primetime on FOX. 

One new wrinkle, assuming that the 10/8 and 10/22 games remain on ABC is that they would coexist with a Big Ten Network prime time telecast.  They did coexist once last year on 9/25 when Eastern Michigan at Ohio St. (ABC) and Temple at Penn St. (BTN) coexisted in the 3:30pm time slot.  There was some thought that last year's exception was due to five games in the 12pm slot on BTN and that satellite space was limited.
The BTN and ABC regularly coexist in the final week of schedule when the goal is to try to have two ABC games with Ohio St.-Michigan at noon, then BTN-ABC coexists at 3:30pm.  Last year there were ABC-BTN coexists at both 12pm and 3:30pm in the final week.

Up next for the Big Ten is to finalize their 1st three weeks of the season's kickoff times and TV designations. Homecoming kickoff times are also being finalized.  Four of those games were set as night games.  Here's the rest.

10/1 Northwestern at Illinois
10/15 Indiana at Wisconsin
10/15 Purdue at Penn St.
10/22 Nebraska at Minnesota
10/22 Indiana at Iowa
10/22 Illinois at Purdue
10/29 Northwestern at Indiana
10/29 Purdue at Michigan

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Brief addendum when comparing Big East options

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.

Big East TV Rights: Where do we go? -- Part Two

Part One explored where the Big East is currently at with respect to TV rights, specifically with finances, exposure and content ownership.

Right now the Big East has the following from ESPN and CBS

  • 17 games, minimum, on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 (ABC is supposed to carry three games per year)
  • At least five games on ESPNU
  • Regional syndication and exclusives are available for ESPN to take advantage of, though the regional package is no longer the most widely syndicated package by ESPN Regional.  That belongs to the SEC.
  • In terms of game dates, one can be on Wednesday, up to two games on Sundays, four on Thursdays.
  • 64 games per year on ESPN/ESPN2 (49 regular season games, plus conference tournament)
  • Of the regular season games, 41 must be conference games
  • CBS will carry five conference games
  • ESPN Regional/Big East Network must carry 66 conference games and 22 non-conference games
  • ESPNU and ESPN3 can carry 30 games combined
Lets now look at the various options out there and what they bring to the table:

* ESPN - The safe choice right now. ESPN treats the conference very well with respect to basketball. I'm not sure I'd change any coverage aspects here. They also handle the regional basketball package and it allows the conference to be hands off, for the most part, when it comes to TV. Whether that is a good thing or not is for another article.

From my standpoint on football, ESPN doesn't do as well when compared to other AQ conferences with the number of telecasts on weeknights, though late week football is becoming more reasonable to other AQ conferences. ABC coverage is minimal compared to the other AQ conferences on ABC, but as the Pac-12 is now proving over the past two years, a presence on over-the-air TV isn't as important as national coverage.

One place where ESPN really excels is the digital area.  ESPN3's coverage has grown by leaps and bounds and with the addition of apps for tablets and cell phones, it is a leader.

The only other debatable item if the conference were to stay with ESPN is whether they would want to bid on the CBS package of basketball games. My guess is they would since those games could easily be worked in to the schedule.

* FOX Sports Media Group - I don't see them being involved. With the amount of content they bought for the Big 12 and Pac-12, along with their C-USA content and vast regional sports coverage at both the college and pro levels, I don't find them appealing to the conference at this point and I don't see FOX having the space to provide them adequate coverage on any level.

* CBS & CBS Sports Network - I have no doubt that CBS would love to retain their presence as the over-the-air carrier for the conference's regular season basketball coverage. CBS was the primary carrier of the conference's football package until 2001 and it doesn't feel like they've desired to bring the conference back, though the conference's football membership was quite different and on some levels more nationally relevant.

Does CBS have the room to provide some football coverage at 12pm? Sure. Does it want to? Probably another story. As for CBS Sports Network, it would love the cache of having an AQ conference, but with long term contracts tied up in the two eastern services academies, Conference USA and the MWC, they don't have the room on the football side either. Basketball they would love to take though, but with the network trying to shed its collegiate nature, they may wish to spend money elsewhere.

On a regional level, CBS Sports Network has handled the Atlantic 10's basketball syndication package. In terms of production, what I have seen from the network is a solid improvement over several years. The only downside is that the games are seen on fewer regional sports network affiliates that when the A-10 controlled the package themselves.

CBS does show their SEC football, along with basketball games its owns, through  They have have the digital assets from CBS Sports Network to provide online viewing, but some of the CBS Sports Network collegiate programming is left to the schools to provide and produce.

* Comcast/NBC - The big spender in the Pac-12 rights race until ESPN and FOX paired up, Comcast might be the best option to drive up the price. While they have the room on Saturdays for football on Versus (soon to be renamed....something else) and could provide a presence on NBC, the increase in the NHL package is a detriment to the conference. Since the NHL and college basketball seasons run concurrent, and Versus has favored carrying eastern and central time zone teams' home games, Versus doesn't necessarily have the room to showcase Big East basketball at night. On the weekends? Yes.

Comcast does have a strength in its regional networks and the areas they cover with respect to the location of many Big East schools. But several of them also have pro sports agreements and it could be tough to crack those lineups too.

NBC does provide for their Notre Dame football games to be streamed online via, but coverage on Versus has not been made available through the internet.

* Turner - The wildcard. Since they don't have an over the air network component, not to mention that their networks are general entertainment and not 24/7 sports, they don't seem suited to taking on a full package in basketball. Maybe a weekend package with another network with a single dedicated weeknight to the conference (see the NBA on TNT). But they do want some college basketball content to compliment their NCAA Tournament coverage and they've spoken about trying to raise the visibility of TruTV, which is more based in reality show types of programming. 

In football, they have the room, more likely for a game or two on the weekend. Again, the general entertainment nature of their networks don't seem to mesh with the ability to do 3-4 Thursday night football games.

Turner doesn't have any regional networks to speak of. They are part of the larger Time Warner system, which has a stake in the CW, but no one has pushed making sports a part of that network on a national basis.

Turner does have a decent portfolio of online content management with the NBA, NASCAR and the NCAA.  Turner began managing NCAA March Madness On Demand this past tournament and incorporated several social networking functions and added tablet/mobile apps.


In Part Three, I'll go over what I would do with respect to a proper rights fee target, coverage levels and what to do with third-tier rights.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Big East TV Rights: Where do we go? -- Part One

EDIT: An incorrect rights fee was used below.  Along with some really bad math on my part.  I have used strikethrough where appropriate to acknowledge my changes.

Note: In interest of disclosure, I'm a Syracuse fan.  Not a graduate of the university, but a fan.  Better to get that out up front.

With five of the AQ conferences locked up for at least the next five years, its time to look at the Big East.  Right now they are the lowest paid conference on a per school basis in football, and the hybrid nature of their conference forces them to sign separate deals governing TV for football and men's basketball, instead of all-encompassing deals.

Football drives the majority of the conference TV deals these days.  Unfortunately for the Big East, its not their strength.  While the conference does regularly finish in the top six when ranking conferences using various statistical and computer models, it has several subjective and objective measures working against it.  In football it is the AQ conference that provides the lowest number of conference games (28, in 2012 that increases to 36 with the addition of TCU but is still lowest) and is the only conference not tied to a BCS bowl game.  And in the eyes of the media, fair or not, it is considered the weakest conference of the six and routinely suggested for demotion in favor of the MWC or whomever catches the eye of the media.

Basketball is a vastly different story.  At 16 teams, it delivers a ton of value to TV partners with 18 conferences games per team (I believe the number is 144 conference games) and provides several quality OOC games.  They delivered a high water mark of 11 teams into the NCAA tournament this year and while several teams were upset early, the conference does house the national champion in UConn (UConn's worthiness based on NCAA violations is another story for another time, and its been debated thoroughly through the media already).

Sports Business Daily provided a pair of great articles recently on rights negotiations.  The 1st dealt with ESPN floating an offer to the conference for all existing rights the network has for a high water mark of $130 million.  I'm told this is an offer for both football and basketball and not just towards one sport or the other.  The 2nd article was on the Pac-12 negotiations and how FOX & ESPN were able to hold off Comcast, who was a strong bidder for Pac-12 rights.

With ESPN offering this extension at a time while the Big East is still under contract, it is testing the conference to see if it will hold off and allow its rights to go through the open market and how much it values its relationship with ESPN.

There's a few key issues for the conference to consider too:
  1. Financial - The football conference members make around $2 $3.47 million per year from ESPN (this does not include any additional money from CBS, who pays the conference around $9 million on a per year basis for just basketball).  I assumed that the ESPN money is divided up where 2/3 of the money is divided up among the football members ($13.3m $22.2m out of $20m $33.3m), then the rest is divided among all 16 members equally.  When coupled with the CBS money, its around $5.3 $4 million for the football playing members, $3.7 $1.25 million for those not playing football in conference.  While that is a great number for the non-football members, the "all sports" members number is around 41% 33% of the revenue that the new ESPN contract will generate for the ACC.
  2. Exposure - The football members now have a interesting view in to the future with the Pac-12.  The current contract allows for Big East games to be played Wednesday-Sunday.  With the exception of the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, ESPN has not televised a Sunday night Big East game since 2008 (UConn @ USF, 11/23/08).  But Thursdays and Fridays, particularly Fridays, have become a Big East staple with at least four Big East telecasts on Fridays nights, excluding Black Fridays.  Now that the Big East isn't the only AQ conference playing on Fridays and that their Thursday night appearances have slightly decreased, is ESPN still the place to be?  For Saturday games, the appearances on ABC are minimal and many times are not conference games.  ESPN/ESPN2 in-season appearances are rare with the exception of late in the season. 

    On the basketball side, things couldn't be better.  Big Monday is the flagship night and due to the flexible nature of scheduling with the conference and the arenas that they play in, Big East basketball can be seen nearly every day of the week on ESPN/ESPN2.  ESPNU typically has 2-3 conference games each week and the syndication games are easy to find.  The conference tournament is televised nationally and up until the 13th-16th place teams' additions into the tournament, was touted as the only tournament to be exclusively televised on the main ESPN channel.  The championship holds the key 9pm ET slot on Saturday of Championship Week and gets a full one hour preview, so it can be inferred that ESPN treats this game as their crown jewel, even with the ACC & SEC games the next day.

    On the CBS side, the games are usually national and CBS & ESPN often work with the conference to pick the best matchups for TV and are involved in who are the "mirror" opponents for a given season (which teams will play home-home).
  3. Content ownership and visibility - Over each of the past five AQ conference negotiations, there have been various types of use of third tier content.  This is content that the major networks typically don't want and conferences have found ways to monetize that content, in addition to content aired nationally.

    * ACC - All content now owned by ESPN, but a greater amount of sublicensing to Raycom for airing on regional cable and over-the-air networks (two separate packages).
    * Big Ten - Big Ten Network. 51% owned by the conference, 49% owned by FOX Sports Media Group
    * Big 12 - FOX Sports Media Group purchased more football games than ever for national cable telecasts, but now schools will have one football game per year that they can sell independently on a regional basis.  Basketball has had the ability to do 3rd tier packages of games.
    * Pac-12 - Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will have both digital and television components to it owned by the conference 100%.
    * SEC - a mix of the ACC and Big 12 where there will be ESPN owned regional content, sublicensed content to regional cable networks, plus the ability to take football/basketball to regional partners.  In addition, the SEC is able to stream freely or sell digital copies of its games because it owns the copyright to its games.

    The Big East today is close to the ACC's model, without the sublicensing of regional content to Raycom.  ESPN takes care of production and finding outlets for the games to air.  The conference receives no additional rights fees; it is part of the existing deal with ESPN.

    Another pair of item to consider is ESPNU and  When the Big East negotiated their deals, ESPNU and weren't in nearly as many homes as today.  ESPNU wasn't on many highly viewed tiers but Time Warner, DirecTV and Comcast has all placed it on a highly viewed digital tier (in some places, it swapped spots with ESPN Classic).  ESPN3, back then known as ESPN360, had limited reach, but with Time Warner signing on last year, the online channel has the ability to reach at least 60 million homes.
So where should the conference go?  Renegotiate with ESPN?  Hold out and see what suitors are in the market in a couple years?  My next entry will discuss the options.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Last attempt at early selections

The remainder of early season selections are going to come out over the next few weeks.  I decided to do them on a conference basis.  I believe I didn't choose a network for the same timeslot twice.  I'm sure there's going to be some MLB conflicts in time slots, so FSN/CSN will have to work through those.

Take a look.  Feel free to comment.

Spring meetings are often when these announcements appear as TV partners are often in attendance to give details about coverage for the upcoming season.  The Pac-12 has already held theirs so expect FOX Sports and Versus announcements right around June 1st.  The rest:

Big 12: Not sure
Big East: May 23-25
Big Ten: May 17-18 (could be when you see Big Ten Network night game announcement)
SEC: Early June, with ESPNU and regional selections possibly as late as football media days in July

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Big Ten Night Game Schedule

The ABC/ESPN games are in place and the Big Ten Network will fill in the rest next week

9/1 - UNLV at Wisconsin 8pm ESPN
9/2 - Youngstown St. at Michigan St. 7:30pm BTN
9/10 - Notre Dame at Michigan 8pm ESPN
10/1 - Notre Dame at Purdue 8pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
10/1 - Nebraska at Wisconsin 8pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
10/8 - Ohio St. at Nebraska 8pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
10/22 - Wisconsin at Michigan St. 8pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
10/29 - Wisconsin at Ohio St. 8pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2

Big Ten Network has openings on 9/3, 9/17, 9/24 and 10/15 if they want to use them all.  10/15 would be their only chance at airing a conference game in primetime as the other dates do not have any conference games on the schedule.

Big Ten Evening Predictions for ABC & ESPN Networks

Probably look like what others have predicted.  These should be announced this afternoon.  I'm not expecting decisions on homecoming games.

All at 8pm ET unless noted

9/1 - UNLV at Wisconsin ESPN (Thursday)
9/10 - Notre Dame at Michigan ESPN (confirmed)
10/1 - Nebraska at Wisconsin ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 (semi-confirmed)
10/8 - Ohio St. at Nebraska ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
10/15 - Ohio St. at Illinois ESPN/ESPN2 (4:30pm)
10/29 - Wisconsin at Ohio St. ABC/ESPN/ESPN2

Big Ten Network night games would be on the Saturdays not listed, plus the already announed Youngstown St.-Michigan St. Friday night game.  Decisions on BTN games, according to the PR dept, would be made next week.  Suppose once that happens we'll hear about their scheduling for the 1st three weeks of the season.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

ACC Guesses for 1st three weeks

One hour from now they'll announce the ACC's 1st three weeks TV schedule.  If I were drawing it up:

Western Carolina at Georgia Tech 7pm

UL-Monroe at Florida St. 12pm ESPNU
Troy at Clemson 12:30pm ACC Network (over-the-air)
Appalachian St. at Virginia Tech 1:30pm
Northwestern at Boston College 3:30pm ABC/ESPN
James Madison at North Carolina 3:30pm
Richmond at Duke 6pm
William & Mary at Virginia 6pm

Stanford at Duke 12pm ESPN2
NC State at Wake Forest 12:30pm Raycom (over-the-air)
Wofford at Clemson 1pm
Rutgers at North Carolina 3:30pm ABC/ESPN2
Charleston Southern at Florida St. 3:30pm

West Virginia at Maryland 12pm ESPNU
Virginia at North Carolina 12:30pm Raycom (over-the-air)
Duke at Boston College 12:30pm Raycom (cable)
Arkansas St. at Virginia Tech 1:30pm
Kansas at Georgia Tech 3pm
Auburn at Clemson 3:30pm ABC
Gardner-Webb at Wake Forest 6pm
South Alabama at NC State 6pm
Ohio St. at Miami (FL) 7:15pm ESPN
Oklahoma at Florida St. 8pm ABC

Pac-12 ABC/ESPN announcement

Quick look at yesterday's Pac-12 schedule for ABC/ESPN.

* Over one month between games on ABC (September 17th - October 22nd).  During that times ESPN will have several games, but ESPN will skip three Saturdays of the schedule

* On the flip side, ABC will go with roughly four straight weeks of 12-day picks to finish out the season in the 3:30pm slot

* Rare that ABC and FSN would set aside a game (Washington-USC) and put a kickoff time on it and use that as the "option" game, but it is USC's homecoming game and it appears they wanted to have a kickoff time set for the game.  Oregon at Stanford is sitting out there and that's probably the choice of ABC, so it feels more likely that ABC's window will move to 8pm.

* At the least ABC will carry seven Pac-12 games.  Ten would be the maximum

* With FOX Sports owning 24 telecast windows to air on F/X & FSN or sublicense to Versus, this would make some sense

9/10 California at Colorado 3:30pm FSN
9/10 Utah at USC 10:30pm FSN
9/17 Colorado St. vs. Colorado 7pm F/X
9/17 Syracuse at USC 10:30pm FSN
9/24 California at Washington 7pm F/X
10/1 12-day window 7pm F/X
10/1 12-day window 7pm Versus
10/1 12-day window 10:30pm FSN
10/8 12-day window 3:30pm FSN
10/8 12-day window 7pm Versus
10/15 12-day 3:30pm FSN
10/15 12-day 7pm F/X
10/22  12-day 3:30pm FSN
10/29 12-day 3:30pm FSN
10/29 12-day 7pm Versus
11/5 12-day 7pm Versus
11/5 12-day 10:30pm FSN
11/12 12-day 3:30pm FSN or 7pm Versus
11/12 12-day 7pm Versus or 10:30pm FSN
11/19 California at Stanford 3:30pm FSN
11/19 Arizona at Arizona St. 7pm Versus
11/25 Colorado at Utah 3:30pm FSN
11/26 12-day window 7pm Versus
11/26 12-day window 10:30pm FSN

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Final look at Pac-12 new rights deal and look ahead to this season

* A few final notes on the Pac-12 rights agreements struck by ESPN and FOX.
  • ESPN will pay a slightly higher rights fee due to taking on more men's basketball, women's basketball and some Olympic sports content that FOX has had rights to.
  • ESPN and FOX teamed up in the spirit of possibly keeping a 3rd competitor out of the marketplace
  • After looking over these two agreements, it feels as though ESPN now has the agreement that FSN currently has today, with the exception of a few less baskebtall games and a couple of football games for ABC, and that FOX (with F/X in football and FSN in basketball) has the old ABC deal, with a few more basketball games than what ESPN and CBS sublicense from FSN today.
* Big East is up next, but not for a couple years.  ESPN is looking to extend the existing agreements (football is a separate contract from all other sports) which have a few years left on them.  If they can keep the Big East from getting into open bidding, they could shut Comcast out until the Big Ten comes up for a new deal.

* Pac-12 early selections from ABC and ESPN were supposed to come out at the beginning of this week.  Didn't come out yesterday so who knows when.  With C-USA having to delay where their TV games are airing, plus no announcement about any Big Ten night games, its been a very quiet spring. 

Here's what I'm thinking (all times Eastern):

Already selected
Friday 9/9 Missouri at Arizona St. 10:30pm ESPN
Saturday 9/24 Oregon at Arizona 10:30pm ESPN/ESPN2
Thursday 10/6 California at Oregon 9pm ESPN
Thursday 10/13 USC at California 9pm ESPN
Thursday 10/20 UCLA at Arizona 9pm ESPN
Friday 11/4 USC at Colorado 9pm ESPN2

Expecting to be selected (all Saturday games)
9/10 Utah at USC 3:30pm ABC
9/17 Texas at UCLA 10:30pm ESPN/ESPN2
10/1 12-day 3:30pm ABC
10/1 12-day 8pm ABC
10/15 12-day 10:30pm ESPN/ESPN2
10/22 12-day 3:30pm ABC
10/29 Stanford at USC 8pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
11/5 12-day 10:30pm ESPN/ESPN2
11/12 12-day 3:30pm ABC
11/12 Oregon at Stanford 8pm ABC
11/19 Cal at Stanford 3:30pm ABC
11/19 USC at Oregon 8pm ABC
11/28 12-day 3:30pm ABC
11/28 Notre Dame at Stanford 8pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2

Note that the Oregon vs. LSU game at Cowboys Stadium does not count towards anyone's television contract.  ESPN contracts with the event, who selects the participating teams.

Last year, ESPN selected 15 of their 20 games early.  Due to a stacked schedule with the increase in conference size and one less week to spread things out over because of the championship game, I see a few more doubleheaders on ABC and selecting 13 of their 20 games in advance.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pac-12 rundown

EDITED: 8:09pm to add minor details re: sponsorships and to reflect that ESPN is "an" Olympic rightsholder, not "the" Olympic rightsholder.

FOX Sports release
ESPN release
Pac-12 release

If I and others have read these right, ESPN gained a lot of rights and FOX gave up a fair amount to stay on as a rights holder

*FOX will carry the majority of the OTA football games. FOX's release says eight games on the broadcast network. Pac-12 release says a combo of 10 games on ABC and FOX, so ABC is mostly out covering the conference.
*14 games on F/X. Bet those are early afternoon (3:30pm ET) when FOX has the primary primetime window.
*Eight of ESPN's 22 football games on Thursdays & Fridays. Two ABC games. Sounds like most of ESPN/ESPN2 football games will be in late evening as they tour the 10:30pm window.
*FOX and ESPN will alternate airing the conference championship game, which will be on a Friday night.  FOX goes 1st.
*FSN is out as far as carrying regular season games
*Rest of games will go back to Pac-12 conference to air as part of Pac-12 Media Enterprises

Men's basketball
*46 games for ESPN with as many as 28 on ESPNU
*22 games on FSN
*Games will be scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, Saturdays and Sundays.  11pm ET could be the time for most ESPN owned games
*Both ESPN and FOX Sports Media Group each receive one quarterfinal and split the semifinals
*ESPN/ESPN2 and FOX/FX will alternate airing the final.  ESPN will go 1st
*Vast majority of games will air on Pac-12 Media Enterprises platforms

Other items
*All other football and men's basketball games, including 1st round of men's tournament and two quarterfinal games go to Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will house a Pac-12 television network and a Pac-12 digital network
*Some games on Pac-12 TV network, others games will be digital network
*No sublicensing allowed.  Means that CBS won't be airing the basketball final or that Versus will air football games
*ESPN now airs the women's basketball championship and is an Olympic sports rightsholder
*ESPN and FOX are allowed to sell a presenting sponsorship for the championship event it has in a given year
*The conference will now control licensing and corporate sponsorship sales for events.  This was previously controlled by FOX
*Will be a football game "draft".  Selection order was not divulged, but Pac-12 Network can trump all partners at times throughout the year
*Conference will discuss with high school associations before scheduling football Friday games
*Not rights related, but conference will request proposals from other cities besides Los Angeles to host MBK tournament

Not sure if FOX and ESPN have network exclusivity in their broadcast windows against each other.


What has trickled about about the Pac-12 media rights

Press conference at 11am ET.  You can go to, or to watch the announcement.

The New York Times, Sports Business Journal, San Jose Mercury News, Variety and Yahoo have all reported various pieces/parts of the deals with FOX Sports Media Group and ESPN.  Try to make sense of what has come out

What we (mostly) know
* FSMG includes FOX broadcast network, F/X and FSN
* ESPN includes ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. for simulcasts.
* Football will air on all listed networks, though it is possible FSN will be dropped from the rotation.  That should be confirmed at this morning's announcement
* FOX and ABC will air some games in primetime on the east coast (8pm ET / 5pm PT).  Either five games total to be split among those two networks, or each will air five games.
* Basketball will be aired on the cable networks (FSN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU).  F/X may or may not be involved.
* For the football games airing on ESPN/ESPN2, four of those games can air on Thursdays and another four games can air on Fridays
* The two entities will split coverage of the major championships (football & men's basketball).  FOX will air the football championship in even numbered years and FSMG will own the men's basketball championship in odd numbered years (sounds like F/X could air it).  ABC airs the football championship in odd numbered years and ESPN airs the men's basketball championship in even numbered years
* ESPN gained rights to the women's basketball championship
* The conference held back some rights for their own use, be it for a TV network, digital & mobile offerings, etc.  The rights are being pooled instead of being held for the schools to monetize on their own (ie. the opposite of the Big 12)
* ESPN will get a package of Olympic sports content to air

What we don't know
* Number of games that each network will have for football & men's basketball
* Who has selection priority
* Could have exclusive games.
* Ability to sublicense to networks who are not rightsholders, such as Comcast or Turner Sports
* If there is network exclusivity (ie. FSMG can't televise at the same time as ESPN and vice-versa) and if the conference offerings have exclusivity
* If existing local rightsholder contracts, such as Comcast SportsNet Northwest with U. of Oregon and Root Sports Northwest with Washington St., have to honored or bought out.

Note that last year ABC/ESPN and FSMG altered their contracts to allow for pay-TV telecast windows to be non-exclusive, so that ESPN and FSN could air telecasts in concurrent windows (Versus was included in the FSN windows).  ABC's telecast window remained exclusive at 3:30pm, but all others became non-exclusive.

I'll attempt to listen/watch at 11am, provide any fact sheets made available and analyze after that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pac-12 Got Rich...

...and you can fill in the rest of the phrase from comedian Dave Chappelle.

The Pac-12 will get paid through shared rightsholders ESPN and FOX Sports Media Group, and take full ownership of a network that they will create themselves.  It looks like all ESPN networks and ABC will get involved and FSMG will supply their broadcast network, F/X and FSN to televise content.

The interesting route is that they will retain the complete ownership of their conference network and create a digital component for it, like a  No word if they'll be leveraging any of the technology companies that reside in the Pac-12 footprint to start up the digital piece, but they have plenty of options to choose from (Microsoft, HP, Google, Yahoo among others).  This year, Youtube was leveraged to air the first round and quarterfinal rounds of the women's basketball championship.  Youtube also was the place where the conference's 12 team logo was unveiled.

ESPN was thought to be out of the game, including by me, due to the amount of money being committed, but by sharing rights, the load on both FOX and ESPN is lessened somewhat.  What will be interesting is how the games are scheduled between the two networks, who has 1st pick on a given week in football, who gets the top MBK games, etc. 

FOX and ESPN will rotate coverage of the men's basketball and football championships.  It appears that one network will cover the football championship and the other gets the men's basketball championship.  FSMG has the rights to both in 2011 and from the NYT's article, FOX will have the football championship & ESPN will have the men's basketball championship in even numbered years and then flip coverage in odd numbered years (F/X could also air the men's basketball championship).

Comcast apparently dropped out last week, which makes you wonder if they had budgeted X amount of dollars towards either the NHL or the Pac-12 and when they signed their NHL deal, had to pull back on the Pac-12.  Comcast's regional networks should still be able to show some content through their affiliation with FOX Sports Net.

For 2011, FSMG will have 24 Pac-12 football games on FSN & F/X, the football championship game on FOX and 65 men's basketball games (number includes all of the conference tournament) for airing on FSN and possibly other networks as games have been licensed to ESPN and CBS.  ESPN has rights to 20 football games to air on ABC and/or ESPN and they have priority in weekly selection of football games.  It will be interesting to see if these numbers remain the same or if the conference pulled back content from the 2011 numbers for their network.

We shall see tomorrow.

Monday, May 2, 2011

ESPN finishes Friday football schedule

Looks like ESPN has finished off its Friday night schedule and two more AQ conferences have accepted the option of Friday night games.

9/2 - TCU at Baylor
9/9 - FIU at Louisville, followed by Missouri at Arizona St.
9/16 - Iowa St. at Connecticut
9/23 - UCF at BYU
9/30 - Utah St. at BYU
10/7 - Boise St. at Fresno St.
10/14 - Hawai'i at San Jose St.
10/21 - West Virginia at Syracuse & Rutgers at Louisville (concurrent games)
10/28 - BYU vs. TCU at Arlington, TX
11/4 - USC at Colorado
11/11 - USF at Syracuse
11/18 - Oklahoma St. at Iowa St.
11/25 - Big East game (Pittsburgh at West Virginia OR Louisville at USF)
12/2 - MAC Championship

During September and October, all games air on ESPN with the exception of one of the Big East games on 10/21 airing on ESPN2.  All of the November & December games air on ESPN2 as ESPN has NBA duty, at least for the time being.

The Thursday schedule is nearly finished too with only the opening Thursday night of the season remaining.  Feels likely that UNLV-Wisconsin could be that game.  Here's the rest:

9/1 - Open
9/8 - Arizona at Oklahoma St.
9/15 - LSU at Mississippi St.
9/22 - NC State at Cincinnati
9/29 - USF at Pittsburgh
10/6 - California at Oregon
10/13 - USC at California
10/20 - UCLA at Arizona
10/27 - Virginia at Miami (FL)
11/3 - Florida St. at Boston College
11/10 - Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech
11/17 - North Carolina at Virginia Tech 
11/24 - Texas at Texas A&M
12/1 - West Virginia at USF