* The Big Ten selections should come out any day now. Anything that wasn't selected by ESPN should be picked up by BTN. When the Big Ten tweeted out that its early season kickoff times and TV would be set last Friday, I assumed it was the entire schedule. It does make some sense as to why the schools and BTN didn't set things right away. With BTN having the flexibility of coexisting with virtually any game that airs on ABC or ESPN, the Big Ten schools can now control the kickoff time for those games and make the best decision for them to maximize viewers and ticket sales.
* The SEC is a little harder to predict when its selections, or a portion of them, will show up. Previous to the 2011 season when the conference was at 12 teams, the CBS, ESPN and ESPN2 selections showed up by mid-June at the latest, with ESPNU and regionally televised games appearing at SEC media day in July. Last year, presumably with both TV partners and the conference in discussions about various items (a future SEC Network, compensation for acquired rights for adding Texas A&M and Missouri, etc.), nothing appeared until media day in July.
This year, with the SEC Network announcement in the recent past and acknowledgement that CBS and the conference have adjusted their rights agreement, we have the CBS selection for 9/14 of Alabama-Texas A&M, but nothing else. ESPN's portion of figuring out the early season is more tricky because they need to figure out which games will be given back to schools to air as PPV or local telecasts, plus work with regional partners like FOX Sports South and Comcast's CSS to determine their availability to show SEC football.
I'd like to believe that the ESPN/ESPN2 portion of the schedule is relatively easy to decide at this point. Based on the available slots, I suppose would look at the SEC selections like this (and I don't think I'm exactly going out on a limb here):
12pm ESPN: Rice at Texas A&M (you could make a good argument for Washington St.-Auburn, but I think you want to showcase the reigning Heisman Trophy winner)
Mid afternoon ESPN: South Carolina at Georgia
12pm ESPN or ESPN2: Vanderbilt at South Carolina
Evening ESPN or ESPN2: Louisville at Kentucky
Evening ESPN or ESPN2: Mississippi St. at Auburn
One of the evening slots would be tied to the network airing the Wisconsin at Arizona St. game, so it would probably air at 7pm ET.
* Next up, somewhere, is the American Athletic Conference. Based on the available games, the Purdue at Cincinnati game seems to be the most desirable one to air nationally and it probably ends up in the 12pm slot on ESPNU. Maryland at Connecticut and Houston at Temple have a good chance of showing up on TV too, possibly on ESPNU or in the Big East Network syndication slot. I'm under the impression that the Big East Network will remain intact for 2013.
What about sublicensing of American games? FOX Sports 1 doesn't seem to have the room for them, unless they try to squeeze in a game at 3:15pm ET on 9/14 for Maryland at Connecticut and FOX does have a C-USA game on that date that they have not yet assigned to a network (Ball St. at North Texas). I don't think this is where FOX Sports 2 could come into play because American commissioner Mike Aresco brought out a number of 74 million households in a recent interview of where games could be sublicensed to other networks. It leaves NBC Sports Network as an alternative, but they seem to be pushing forward with their Barclays Premier League coverage plus existing commitments to open wheel racing. CBS Sports Network would not seem to be an option. Sublicensing to Turner Sports for one of their networks could work, as could holding onto the games and placing them on ESPNEWS, who is considered an available network starting with the new contract in 2014.
Through negotiation, anything is possible.
* After those three conferences, here's are other items to keep an eye out on, likely in July and early August at conference media days:
- Sun Belt Network
- Mountain West regional airings on ROOT Sports and possibly other RSNs
- Mountain West Digital Network
- Finalized kick times for regional C-USA games, which can be dependent on regional SEC games
- Selections for MAC regional packages
- ESPN3 and institutional webcast packages for various FBS and FCS conferences
- Television packages for the CAA, Ivy League, MEAC, SWAC, NEC and Southland conferences