Tuesday, September 17, 2013

TV Windows and Why They Aren't As Restrictive

If you've asked this year about any game and where it might be slotted over 12 days in advance, you've probably received a reply that had something to the effect of "its too far in advance to guess", "let's wait a few weeks", etc. I realize that more folks are following this site and not everyone reads everything on the site, but I want to get this out there.  Maybe it will save you from writing a tweet or email and me from losing sanity, my patience or anything else.

When this site started in 2005 and really up through the last couple years, TV windows were quite restrictive in nature.  The Pac-12 would publish a list of telecast windows on ABC, FSN and the partners that FSN would sublicense games to for the entire season.  The Big 12 often laid out their cable windows before the season started.  Things about the SEC windows would inadvertently leak from CBS or ESPN either from interviews with conference personnel or from writers.  The ACC and Big East were the only ones that seemed to not be locked down.  Coincidentally, they were also the two conferences who had all of their eggs in one basket, at least for national telecasts, with a single rightsholder.  But it was often easier to pick which games a network would air.  More of a process of elimination.

Fast forward over the past few seasons and we've seen conferences change in size and/or renegotiate rights agreements.  Even had a lawsuit over a rights agreement.  To keep things moving forward, TV partners have become less restrictive in regards to telecast windows & exclusivity.  We still live in a 24 hour a day world.  The conferences have changed where their telecast models don't fit like they used to.  There is some exclusivity in the Pac-12 windows, but not much.  There's none in the Big 12.  The exclusivity for CBS games that has held in the SEC goes away next year.  The Big Ten negotiated to allow BTN and ABC to share the same telecast window.  The Mountain West, who left ESPN in 2005 to pursue a more restrictive environment with CSTV and the mtn., completely changed their model to be more flexible, get paid a few more dollars and in turn get more games shown on TV to everyone.

It is darn near impossible to guess beyond twelve days in advance.  Games need to be played.  That's why TV doesn't do it for the most part.  Heck, they can wait to as little as six days in advance.  I don't have any inside knowledge beyond press releases and media sites.  The predictions are for fun only.  Just educated guesses.  Not to be used when figuring out travel plans or hosting a party.  I'd bet my batting average on these things is not good.

Each week has a link labeled Flex Schedule in the top left.  It is an Excel spreadsheet with the TV windows as they have been announced by each media partner.  I try to update it as frequently as possible.  They do change.  Please use it as a guide.


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