Monday, December 29, 2014

Thoughts on 2015-16 Bowl Season, A Puzzle for NBCU in September & More

* Assuming the Rose Bowl remains a 2pm PT / 5pm ET start time and that ESPN intends to have an extended pregame leading into the game, either the Fiesta or Sugar will have a pre-noon local time kickoff.   My money would be on the Sugar as it would be closer to noon than the Fiesta, which would be closer to 10am or 10:30am local time.

That said, the Cotton Bowl for several years kicked off at 10:30am local time.  Someone may have to bite the bullet.

* A few calendar related items for next year's bowl schedule:

  • Should start on Saturday December 19th.  The Cure Bowl intends to be the first bowl game played.
  • Expect no bowl games on the December 20th & 27th, plus January 3rd.  These are Sundays where the NFL will be playing.  
  • December 26th and January 2nd could be two Saturdays where a bunch of games are set aside 
  • Both December 21st & 28th should have NFL Monday Night Football, so ESPN may attempt to schedule afternoon bowl games.
Because the college football regular season schedule will play out over one less week compared to 2014, I don't think you'll see ESPN have any situations where a bowl game is scheduled out over the same weekend as their NFL wild card game, unless ESPN elects to stretch out its bowl schedule.

Wouldn't be surprised to see the Sun Bowl be played post-New Years Day on the 2nd either.  Will have to find the article from earlier this year, but it was pointed out that one of the worst attended Sun Bowl games was one the in 1993 played on Christmas Eve.  In my opinion, I believe the game will work with CBS to find out whether they intend to carry any NFL games on 12/26 (they may if there is no Thursday night game on Christmas Eve) and try to stay away from holding their game that day.

* FOX has again elected to showcase the NASCAR Trucks series from Talledega on October 24th, which should fall in the window of the broadcast network's World Series coverage or possibly the tail end of their ALCS coverage as they rotate leagues with Turner Sports.  For college football, this should put all of their CFB coverage that day on FOX Sports 1 if it mirrors what they did in 2014.

* Assuming that ESPN is carrying the South Carolina vs. North Carolina game from Charlotte on ESPN as their opening Thursday night game, and doesn't push the game down to ESPNU for example or go with a doubleheader, that Michigan at Utah opening could be a nice get for FOX Sports 1 if it falls to them, especially with the forthcoming announcement of Jim Harbaugh as the coach at Michigan.

Looking over the current opening night schedule, there is some "wealth" to go around.  Maybe TCU at Minnesota for BTN & Washington at Boise St. for CBSSN or ESPN later in the evening.

* It will be curious to see how Notre Dame football is scheduled around in September for three specific dates:
  • 9/5: Deutsche Bank Championship, NASCAR from Darlington & Texas at Notre Dame - The golf tournament would only be on the 2nd round on Saturday as it has a Monday finish, so that probably stays on Golf Channel.  The NASCAR race is scheduled to be on NBC and probably would air after Texas at Notre Dame.
  • 9/19: BMW Championship & Georgia Tech at Notre Dame - The golf may be split between NBC and Golf Channel, assuming the football game is an afternoon game.
  • 9/26: Tour Championship & Massachusetts at Notre Dame - Same as 9/19
I am unsure if NBC has to wait until the extension of its current contract comes into play to place Notre Dame games on NBCSN.  Both 9/19 and 9/26 have NASCAR Xfinity Series races scheduled for NBCSN.  The Presidents Cup also falls over the same weekend as the Navy at Notre Dame game, but that event is being played in South Korea and could end up being shown as delayed highlights on NBC with live action on Golf Channel.

NBCU CEO Steve Burke has said that USA Network could be in play for some of their sports content.  Maybe this is one of the places it gets used, especially with the English Premier League and Formula 1 racing in season at that time.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pre-Holiday Rumblings

* Asked this over two tweets on my timeline:

As you probably know, Pac-12 Networks are not carried by DirecTV.  You also probably know that AT&T is in process of acquiring DirecTV.  The leap is being made that the Pac-12 Networks would appear on DirecTV at some point shortly after AT&T acquires the provider as the U-Verse service carries three of the Pac-12 Networks, plus the rest of the networks via authenticated provider access at the Pac-12 website.

I'm not of the opinion that these contracts will be 100% transferable and that AT&T's carriage contracts, or lack of contracts, would transfer over.  If they did, would channels like NHL Network be dropped because AT&T doesn't have a deal for it?  In a somewhat similar scenario, when Adelphia was carved up by Time Warner, Comcast and others, Adelphia systems that carried NFL Network lost access to the channel.  Conversely, I don't see Pac-12 Networks or Epix showing up right away, not to mention some authenticated services like WatchESPN or FOX Sports Go.

DirecTV and AT&T talked about the possibility of operating the satellite service and U-Verse as separate business units and if they were to ever merge some of their carriage contracts, it might be phased in over a period of time.  For example, they might consider syncing up their programming contracts so that they expire at the same time, they negotiate across both business at a later date.

* Each of the last two seasons FOX Sports 1 has placed a C-USA game on the Thursday night that the NFL opens its season.  Provided that it isn't a conference game involving FAU, Western Kentucky or Louisiana Tech, FOX may look to move the Kansas St. at UTSA game to a Thursday night.

FOX Sports 1, in general, may look to place more games on Thursday & Friday nights with the season being shorter by one week compared to 2013 & 2014, in addition to using FSN for a few more C-USA & Big 12 games.  At least when its feasible since they'll have postseason baseball on the channel occupying a 2-3 week stretch, plus NASCAR truck commitments.  Whether they'll have to use FOX Sports 2 for other games, or place a few more games on FOX College Sports, I'm not sure.  I don't think the FCS channels have a dedicated HD feed available, but I believe they produce the games using equipment for a widescreen production.  At least I think they do based on what gets fed to the FOX Sports GO application.

* In addition to the Big Ten men's basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden in 2018, the conference will have two men's basketball-men's hockey doubleheaders at the arena, one each in 2016 and 2017.

Penn St. & Michigan will be the featured schools on 1/30/16, which if I counted right is would be the weekend of the Pro Bowl.  From the press releases, I'm unable to tell who would be losing a home game in both sports.

* Forgot about this, but the Mountain West title game contract will enter its option year with CBS.  It appears that CBS has the option to pick up the game or not.  Ratings for the game were down slightly and the game itself doesn't get cleared by some affiliates, who instead shuffle it to a digital subchannel, or will join in late after local newscasts.

I'm unsure if CBS has the ability to place the game on CBS Sports Network, which isn't Nielsen rated but touts a subscriber number of 56 million.  The evening start may be desired by the conference to stay away from the other conference championships throughout the day, plus the possibility of a Hawai'i hosted game.

I do not know if ESPN, as the conference's other rightsholder, would be the next party to negotiate with the conference if CBS elects not to pick up the option or if the conference could take the rights to the game to the open market where FOX, NBC or another party could submit a bid.  The American Athletic Conference will hold their inaugural football championship game next year over the same weekend with ESPN holding the rights to the game, so that would fill up one of the openings.

* Have seen a pair of non-conference Big East games were pulled from FOX Sports 2 in favor or FSN regional distribution recently, specifically Rhode Island-Providence on 12/10 and North Dakota-Marquette on 12/22.  I don't know if these were changes were made in addition to those as part of conference play.  The conference website did not have the changes to FSN, but changes look like they were made in mid-to-late November based on the game notes of both Providence & Marquette.

One item could be that FOX promised their regional affiliates a set number of Big East games and by shifting two conference games from FSN to FOX Sports 1, they needed to make good with the number games being provided to those affiliates.  That's the only thing I can think of, especially since the games are not being replaced with live sports content on FS2.

* Enjoy the holiday break, no matter what you are or are not celebrating.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Short take on the 2018 Big Ten tournament at MSG

* In the near future, the Big Ten is expected to announce that their 2018 men's basketball tournament will be held at Madison Square Garden.  Per the report from Sports Illustrated, the conference is not displacing the Big East, but they'll hold the tournament the week prior to the Big East tournament.

A couple interesting items that encompass the forthcoming announcement:
  • The conference does not have a TV partner for this tournament as it will be the first tournament under a new rights agreement.  Currently the tournament is split between BTN, ESPN and CBS.  BTN and ESPN split the first three days equally, then CBS has the semifinals and championship games.  It would not surprise me though if the conference has been working with a future TV partner(s) on this tournament and the schedule surrounding it.

    Let's say the tournament remains a Wednesday through Sunday event as the SI report mentions and BTN continues to split the first three games with another network.  Would that network carry games in the afternoon & cede to BTN in the evening or vice-versa?  The conference tournament would be concurrent with the final week of the regular season for most other conferences and, for example, ESPN has a fairly regular rotation of games on weeknights and FOX usually has Big East & Pac-12 games.  Maybe BTN would take a larger role, much like both the Pac-12 and SEC Network have with their respective conference tournaments.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the schedule changed.  We should know more when the conference & MSG have an official announcement.
  • The conference members are not 100% set to ending their regular seasons at the end of the tournament.  There is nothing stopping any member from scheduling a game after the conference tournament, whether its Senior Day, a game to keep the team ready for the postseason or one to try to lift someone off the bubble.  St. Mary's did this in both 2009 and 2011, but neither extra game was enough to lift them to an NCAA tournament at-large berth.
There are definitely signs pointing towards FOX on a few items, such as this and the new Gavitt Challenge (though the first two years would have ESPN as a potential telecast outlet).  Whether it is to add content to BTN and in the process get content for a new media deal with the conference remains to be seen.

For now, this is only a one year deal.  No locations beyond 2018 have been set.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Early December News & Notes

* In this article from Forbes about how the SEC Network was created, a small graphic in the article notes that BTN has eclipsed 60 million subscribers in the US.

* FOX has made some changes to their men's college basketball schedule with respect to the Big East.  With a NASCAR marketing meeting this week, FOX may have been able to go through its planned schedule and elected to make some changes to its basketball schedule.  Doesn't hurt that the Big East schools are playing well during non-conference play.
  • 1/10 - Xavier at Butler moved from 2pm on FSN to 4:30pm on FS1.
  • 1/17 - Marquette at Xavier remains at 12pm, but moves from FSN to FS1
  • 2/14 - St. John's at Xavier, previously scheduled for 3pm with a flexible network decision of FOX or FS1, moves to a 12:30pm tip on FOX.  The Oregon at UCLA game which was the other game being flexed remains at 3pm with no determination yet as to the network airing the game, but could fit on either one. EDIT: Oregon at UCLA is now a FOX telecast, per Oregon website
  • 2/21 - Seton Hall at St. John's moved from 2:30pm on FS1 to 12pm on FOX.  The Villanova at Marquette game at 2pm on FOX has moved back thirty minutes to a 2:30pm tip.
  • 3/7 - Seton Hall at Georgetown & St. John's at Villanova, both previously scheduled for 12pm with a flexible network decision of FOX or FS1, will now both air on FOX.  The former remains at 12pm & the latter moves to 2pm.
The possible motorsports conflicts are around the final three dates
  • 2/14 is the Sprint Unlimited, but it is on FOX at night.  FS1 could be carrying some pre-race items from Daytona.  The ARCA race from Daytona is this day as well, which was shown live on FS1 last year in the late afternoon.
  • 2/21 has the Xfinity series from Daytona on FS1.  Presumably some Daytona 500 related coverage as well.
  • 3/7 has the Xfinity series from Las Vegas on FS1 and could have some Saturday practice coverage for the Sprint Cup race from that track the next day.
* ESPN MediaZone schedules for ESPN & ESPN2 are out through February and ESPNU through January, which means tentative plans have been set for the games on February 28th, which had all potential games on ESPN or ESPN2 with flexible tip times, and plans for ESPNU on January 3rd, when the network may air a NFL wild card playoff game.

All plans for those dates are tentative and ESPN says their College Gameday choices will be picked throughout the year.  So far MediaZone matches what I wrote earlier: the games & sites may not be as flexible as first thought, unless ESPN makes minor tip time adjustments.

* Was trying to figure out why there was a gap between the Conference USA (1:30pm) & Big East (8pm) championship games on FS1.  Think I might have spotted the gap and it may not be NASCAR as its race will be on FOX that day.  The FIA Formula E race from Miami on 3/14 will start at 4pm ET in a one hour timeslot.  

* If you were not aware, the Cure Bowl will air on CBS Sports Network next year.  The matchup will be the Sun Belt vs. the American, which Texas St. probably wishes was around for this year (wouldn't have helped Georgia Southern).

* As you probably know, UAB's decision to drop football puts the school's conference affiliation in a bind.  It probably puts a strain on C-USA as well when it comes to any negotiations that may have started towards new television contract as all three (FOX, CBSSN & Sinclair/ASN) expire after the next athletic year (2015-16).  C-USA might be one of the few current cases in college sports where the "bigger is better" philosophy for membership size has not worked out as they've seen the number of national telecasts decrease over the past couple years.

UAB intends to add men's cross country & track, so it looks like they plan to remain at the Division I level.  How that affects the possibility of remaining in C-USA, whose bylaws require all full members to sponsor football, remains to be seen. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Statistical Breakdown of CFB on TV in 2014 by Conference

Please note that these breakdowns are specific to the conference's television contract.  Non-conference road games revert to the home school's television contract.  The four independent schools are not listed here but you can see their breakdown on this page.

For entertainment purposes only, like when someone comes along to correct my math :)

  • Breakdown by network and compared to 2013
    • ABC: 7 (-7)
      • A 50% drop from 2013 
        • Count does not include ACC Championship game in either year.
      • Florida St. appeared in six of the seven games.  Only Notre Dame vs. Syracuse did not feature the Seminoles.
      • Four in primetime & three at 3:30pm ET
        • One of the 3:30pm games was regional only and not shown with a ESPN or ESPN2 reverse mirror
    • ESPN: 18 (+6)
      • Nine on Saturdays, three on Fridays, five on Thursday & one Labor Day game
    • ESPN2: 6 (+3)
    • ESPNU: 15 (-3)
    • Clemson had the most ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU cable appearances with eight, followed by Louisville, Pittsburgh & Miami (FL) with seven and Georgia Tech with six.
    • ESPNEWS: 2
    • ESPN3: 14
      • All non-conference games in September
    • Regional syndication (RSNs & ACC Network) accounted for 32 games
      • 17 RSN games
        • Two in primetime
        • North Carolina was the only school not to appear here.
        • NC State, Boston College and Syracuse had four appearances each.
      • 15 ACC Network games
        • One split telecast window
        • Up one game from 2013
        • Florida St. was the only school not to appear in this package.
        • North Carolina had the most appearances with five.
  • 2014 was the first year of a new television contract for the conference.  ESPN controls the rights to the conference and sublicenses a package of games to CBS Sports Network
  • Breakdown by network.  The number in parenthesis are the number of games on Saturdays
    • ABC: 3 (all)
      • All were reverse mirrored
    • ESPN: 6  (1)
    • ESPN2: 7 (2)
    • ESPNU: 13 (6)
    • ESPNEWS: 14 (all)
    • ESPN3: 11 (all)
      • Two of the games were intraconference games.
    • CBS Sports Network: 15 (13)
      • One game per week selected as part of the in-season selection process
      • SMU had the most CBSSN appearances with six.
    • Three of weeknight/day games were on Black Friday
  • Missing from this conference, when compared to the old television package signed under the Big East, is regional syndication through ESPN.  One game, Stony Brook at Connecticut, was aired on regional television.
  • It is my understanding that the American is guaranteed 28 games on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.  They had 29.
    • Both UCF and East Carolina appeared seven times each as part of the 29 games.  Memphis, who clinched a share of the conference title, appeared three times.  Both Cincinnati & Houston appeared five times are part of the primary package. 
  • The conference had 84% of its conference controlled football games on televise (58 of 69).  The goal is to televise somewhere between 80 to 90 of conference controlled football games.
  • ESPN selected eighteen or nineteen Big 12 games available to be selected by them
    • Depending how you count the Oklahoma St.-Florida St. game in Arlington, that could be the nineteenth Big 12 game for ESPN.  I've counted UCLA vs. Texas as a Big 12 game because ESPN organized it but FOX televised it, presumably by asserting telecast rights based on the location of the game.
    • ABC: 9 or 10 (+2 or +3)
      • Two ABC games were shown regionally without a reverse mirror to ESPN or ESPN2
    • ESPN: 7 (+2)
    • ESPNU: 1 (-2)
    • No games nationally on ESPN2. 2013 had two games on the network
    • Longhorn Network: 1 (-1)
      • LHN carried two games, but one counts as Texas's institutional game
    • There were 14 (or 15) national exposures on through ABC, ESPN and ESPN2.  ESPN's Big 12 rights agreement requires 13 to 15 national exposures.
  • FOX carried 38 games through their national rights package.  Comparison to 2013 in parenthesis
    • FOX: 8 (-2)
    • FS1: 23 (even)

    • FSN: 7 (even)
      • FSN additionally carried four Big 12 schools institutional games to multiple regions
      • Kansas appeared on FSN the most (four)
    • FOX is required to carry six games each on their broadcast network plus six games on a national cable outlet
  • Overall, the conference had 45 (or 46) full national games.  The requirement is 25 full national games over ABC, ESPN, FOX and FS1.  This number includes reverse mirror showings on ABC & ESPN or ESPN2.  Without the reverse mirror games, the number is 43 (or 44) games.
  • On the broadcast networks, TCU appeared six times and Baylor five times.  Kansas St. just twice, but led all schools in national cable appearances with eight (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FS1).  Kansas had the most appearances on FSN (four) for games that were not bonus/institutional games.
Big Ten
  • Breakdown of games by channel
    • ABC: 20
      • Ten full national games, nine reverse mirror & one regional game without a reverse mirror
    • ESPN: 5
    • ESPN2: 16
    • ESPNU: 9
    • ESPNEWS: 5
    • BTN: 40
  • In total, ESPN carried 55 Big Ten controlled games.  Until this season, ESPN's capped number of Big Ten games was 41.  The additions of Rutgers and Maryland appear to have increased the number of games ESPN could take substantially.
  • The number of games on ESPN is down from 2013, from nine to five, while the number of games on ESPN2 nearly doubled, up from nine to sixteen
  • ESPNEWS carried its five games earlier in the year.  None after September.
  • The conference had three November night games, bucking a trend of scheduling no night games past the end of October.
  • BTN had eight multi-game telecast windows, down from twelve in 2013.  Six of the eight windows carried two games concurrently.  No window carried more than three games at a time.
  • Ohio St. had the most appearances on ABC (eight), followed by Michigan St. (five) and Michigan (four).
  • Should be noted that the conference's membership again changed between 2013 & 2014.
  • FOX and C-USA appear to group all games on all FOX owned properties (FS1, FSN and FOX College Sports) into a thirty game bucket.
    • FS1 and FOX College Sports each carried nine games
      • FS1's number is down three from '13
      • FOX College's number is down one from last season
      • Note that one game moved from FCS up to FS1 (FAU-Marshall on 10/25)
    • FSN carried 12 games, up four from 2013
    • Five of the nine games on FS1 were on Saturdays, which is up one game from '14
  • The number of C-USA controlled games on CBS Sports Network declined for the third straight year.
    • 2012: 15
    • 2013: 12
    • 2014: 7
  • Overall, sixteen C-USA controlled regular season games were shown on national television (FS1 or CBSSN).
  • American Sports Network filled a gap that regional cable stations like Time Warner-Texas & CSS previously filled.  
  • The conference had eight weekday/night games on television in '14 which is two less than '13.  The split of Thursday & Friday games was even at four apiece compared to '13 when seven of the ten games were on Thursdays. 
  • The numbers are fairly flat compared to 2013 for ESPN television platforms
    • ESPN: 2 (no games in '13)
    • ESPN2: 6 (does not conference championship game in either year)
    • ESPNU: 7 (even)
      • An eighth ESPNU game was lost due to cancellation (Kent St. at Buffalo)
    • ESPNEWS: 1 (down two)
    • ESPN stopped syndicating MAC games to local stations in 2014
  • The biggest change was ESPN taking over rights to all MAC controlled football games.  Previously they only had a portion of the games and the conference could then work with regional broadcasters or local stations to carry games.  55 MAC controlled games will air on ESPN3 exclusively this year, compared to 43 last year.
  • Conversely, nine games were televised by regional broadcasters in 2013.  This year just four games were regionally televised, all by Buckeye Cable.
  • CBS Sports Network carried twenty three games.  Nineteen on Saturdays and four on Fridays
    • Breakdown by timeslot of the Saturday games using Eastern time as the base
      • Mid-afternoon: 2
      • Evening/Primetime: 7
      • Late Evening: 10
  • ESPN carried twenty four games.  Sixteen Saturday games and eight weeknight games
    • Breakdown of games by network compared to 2013
      • ESPN: 3 (-1)
      • ESPN2: 7 (+2)
      • ESPNU: 7 (-3, note that one game on ESPNU in '13 was sublicensed from CBSSN)
      • ESPNEWS: 3 (+2)
      • ESPN3: 4 (-1)
    • Nearly all MW games on ESPN Networks started later than 8pm ET.
      • Ten of the games on ESPNU or ESPN2 started at 10pm ET or later.
      • Two ESPNEWS games started at 4pm ET
    • Boise St. led with five appearances on ESPN or ESPN2.  Utah St. and Fresno St. had three each.  Colorado St. had one and Air Force had zero.
  • Pac-12 Networks carried 35 games over 32 telecast windows
    • Breakdown by local start time (Saturday games only)
      • Pre-noon: 4
      • Noon - 3:30pm: 18
      • 4pm-6:30pm: 3
      • 7pm or later: 7
    • The seven 7pm or later starts on Saturdays are down four from 2013
  • ESPN carried twenty-two games.  Seventeen on Saturdays
    • ABC: 6 (5 Saturdays)
      • Three at 3:30pm ET (one reverse mirror) & two primetime games on Saturdays
    • ESPN: 13 (9 Saturdays)
      • Two at 3:30pm ET
    • ESPN2: 2 
    • ESPNU: 1
  • FOX carried twenty-two games.  Sixteen on Saturdays.
    • FOX: 10 (9 Saturdays)
      • Five in the mid afternoon and four in primetime on Saturdays
    • FOX Sports 1: 12 (7 Saturdays)
      • Utah at Oregon St. was moved in its entirety to FOX Sports 2, with additional coverage on Pac-12 Networks & local stations, due to the MLB playoffs.
      • FS1's seven Saturday games had four late evening starts (7pm local time or later)
  • The number of late evening games is often a talking point when it comes to the Pac-12.  Overall, FOX and ESPN carried fourteen Saturday late evening ET / primetime PT games.  This is two less when compared with last year.  Both ESPN and FOX carried one less late evening game.
  • For games on broadcast networks, USC led with five games.  Oregon, Stanford and UCLA each had four.  Arizona St. & Washington both had three and Arizona had two.  For games on national cable outlets, Arizona St., Utah and Oregon St. each had six games and Arizona and Oregon each had five (ESPNs, FS1 & 2).  Colorado led the way with nine games on Pac-12 Networks.
  • CBS carried fifteen regular season games with their usual single primetime game and one doubleheader of 12pm & 3:30pm games.  Nothing much to report.
  • Breakdown of SEC games on ESPN platforms.  Numbers are down across the board on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, which makes sense based on what I posted earlier this year (hit the number on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU on the nose: 32).
    • ESPN: 17 (-4)
    • ESPN2: 7 (-5)
    • ESPNU: 8 (-3)
    • SEC Network: 48
      • 49 if you count the Iron Bowl simulcast
      • 44 unique telecast slots.  Four slots had two concurrent games.
  • FOX's regional sublicense package carried only five games which is lower than most years where it carried around eight games.  The package did not have any intraconference games.  These games will return to ESPN next athletic year.
  • SEC Network carried 20 intraconference games exclusively.  Each week had at least one intraconference except for September 6th.  Comparing this to '13 using SEC TV, FOX RSNs and CSS games, this is an increase from 11 games.  Please note that those three packages carried 29 games.
  • As we know and I botched, Alabama had five appearances on CBS which is why the Iron Bowl ended up on ESPN.  LSU and Auburn had the most appearances on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU with six.   Kentucky and Vanderbilt had the most SEC Network appearances with eight.
  • Alabama and Ole Miss did not play a intraconference game exclusively on SEC Network, A simulcast of the Iron Bowl aired on the network.
Sun Belt
  • The number of Sun Belt games on ESPN's television networks increased slightly.  Possibly due to increase in membership size.
    • Six games on ESPNU on Thursdays or Fridays
    • Two midweek games on ESPN2
    • Two additional games on ESPNEWS early in the season
  • With the loss of the Sun Belt Network partnership between Comcast's CSS and Cox Sports TV, ESPN3 picked up the slack.  48 games were aired exclusively on ESPN3
    • Some of the games were branded as Sun Belt Network & aired sporadically on ESPN GamePlan
  • The only school producing games for regional television was New Mexico St. through AggieVision 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Site news, 2015 CFB and other info

* The last set of CFB TV guesses for '14 are available.  Yes, Wake Forest at Duke has already been set for ESPNU at 7pm, so that's incorrect but it was published before the game was played.  Looks like I'll have a couple opportunities to do this for college basketball games on 2/28 and 3/7.

* My intention is to do another rework of the site's guts this football offseason and that could delay when the 2015 site will be live.  I can't say that the place will look any more modern that what it does, but the goal is to make it more mobile friendly than it already is (its fairly mobile friendly).  I'm sure you'll be fine without 2015 for a little while and this would not affect the basketball schedule.

* Conference USA's rights agreements are the next conference agreements to expire, with the 2015-16 athletic year as the final year of those agreements.  Over the next several months the conference will likely sit down with FOX and CBS Sports Network, along with syndication service American Sports Network, to map out the future.

During the last round of negotiations, CBS's agreement was announced in July of 2010, right around the conference's football media days.  The ESPN agreement that was being finalized never came to fruition and the conference signed an agreement with FOX Sports.

The conference's football championship remained on ESPN as part of the settlement of a lawsuit between ESPN and the conference regarding the details surrounding the negotiations & consummation of the FOX agreement.  FOX offered up the game as a gesture.  I am unsure if this remains with ESPN as part of any new negotiations or if it would return to FOX or a new rightsholder.

* As a side note regarding Conference USA, there are some rumblings around UAB football and its future, which could affect the school's future in C-USA.

* ROOT Sports Southwest appeared on Monday as the new home of the Rockets & Astros.  For college content, it looks like the Mountain West will have its content shown here from the other ROOT Sports RSNs plus the network will carry some games from the American Sports Network syndication outlet, presumably for Conference USA.

I don't have DirectTV anymore, but I assume it is available in the Sports Pack for subscribers who are in-market for the RSN.  As an out-of-market U-Verse subscriber, I do not have access to the channel for the moment as its channel number is not available to me even though I get the Sports & HD Extra packages.

It is my understanding is that there are two feeds of RSSW being made available much like there were two feeds of CSN Houston.  This is due to the Rockets' in-market territory being much smaller than the Astros.

* ESPN MediaZone has not tipped their hand as to which date they will air their NFL Wild Card playoff game.  It will be either January 3rd or 4th.  For now, I am following what MediaZone has planned for ESPN and ESPN2 on those dates.  ESPNU listings for those dates have not yet been generated.

* 2015 is beginning to shape up already.  ESPN announced their FCS Kickoff game of North Dakota St. at Montana.  The SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 have announced their schedules and they've framed up a fair portion of Thursday & Friday night games.  The Big Ten schedule has been out for some time and the ACC schedule should be available early in 2015.  The schedules for the Group of Five conferences, much like the ACC schedule, are often influenced by TV and those come out in the late winter & early spring.

I did not see a Black Friday or Thanksgiving game come out from the SEC, but they sometimes choose a game for two straight years to have a matchup at both schools on Thursday or Friday, so Missouri at Arkansas could again be on Black Friday & Texas A&M at LSU could be the Thanksgiving game assuming FOX Sports 1 airs Texas Tech at Texas.

EDIT: LSU will not host Texas A&M on Thanksgiving.  Only Black Friday or on the weekend

9/3: South Carolina vs. North Carolina (at Charlotte), UTSA at Arizona & Michigan at Utah
10/8: Washington at USC
10/15: Auburn at Kentucky & UCLA at Stanford
10/22: California at UCLA
10/29: West Virginia at TCU & Oregon at Arizona St.
11/5: Mississippi St. at Missouri & Baylor at Kansas St.
11/26: Texas Tech at Texas

9/25: Stanford at Oregon St.
11/13: USC at Colorado
11/27: Baylor at TCU, Oregon St. at Oregon & Washington St. at Washington

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Six Day TV Guesses for 11/29 & Guesses for 12/6

Last one for the year.

Please note that the 12/6 items are projecting results for both 11/22 & 11/29.  I don't like project that far out on any other week, but I tried to think up the contingencies for key wins/losses.

Available TV windows
Week 14 schedule

Six day guesses for 11/29
12pm ABC: Michigan at Ohio St.
12pm ESPN: Wake Forest at Duke
12pm ESPN2: South Carolina at Clemson
1pm Pac-12: Utah at Colorado
3:30pm ABC: Florida at Florida St.
3:30pm FOX: Oregon at Oregon St.
3:30pm ESPN: Baylor vs. Texas Tech
3:30pm ESPN2: Michigan St. at Penn St.
4:30pm Pac-12: BYU at California
7pm ESPN2: Pittsburgh at Miami (FL)
7pm ESPNU: Kentucky at Louisville
8pm ABC: Notre Dame at USC

* Time is confirmed for Michigan at Ohio St., Michigan St. at Penn St. & Baylor vs. Texas Tech
* If ABC airs Florida at Florida St. or Baylor vs. Texas Tech as their night game, the two Pac-12 games can air at the same time with one on FOX and the other on ABC or ESPN.  That would move Utah at Colorado at 2pm ET and BYU at California to 6pm ET.
* Yes, they could also air one of the Pac-12 games at 7pm in either of those slots, but I believe those slots are earmarked for ACC games.
* I gave Wake Forest at Duke a bump because it could decide one of the ACC divisions.

Week 15 schedule

Guesses for 12/6
12pm ABC: Kansas St. at Baylor
12pm ESPN: C-USA Championship
12pm ESPN2: Temple at Tulane
12pm CBS Sports Network: SMU at Connecticut
3pm FS1: Iowa St. at TCU
7:30pm ESPN2: Houston at Cincinnati
7:45pm ESPN: Oklahoma St. at Oklahoma
8pm ABC: ACC Championship

* ABC does not have a 3:30pm window.  Just noon & 8pm ET.
* No games on ESPNU either except for the SWAC Championship.
* I figured ABC would want the matchup with the top two Big 12 schools & FS1 would take the Iowa St. at TCU game in the event K-State upsets Baylor to have a shot at showing the possible outright Big 12 champion.
* I suppose that the ACC Championship could air on ESPN if Florida St. loses.  In my opinion, that would move Kansas St. at Baylor to primetime on ABC, the ACC Championship to ESPN at 7:45pm (it is confirmed to air in primetime on either ABC or ESPN) and Bedlam or maybe the C-USA title game if Marshall is undefeated & ranked in the CFB playoff rankings on ABC at 12pm with the other on ESPN at that time.
* I have the C-USA title game on ESPN assuming Marshall being undefeated coming into the game.  If the Herd lose at some point (Marshall is in the championship game either way), the game probably ends up on ESPN2.

Monday, November 17, 2014

CFB TV Confirmations for Week Fourteen (11/28/14 & 11/29/14)

Please note that SEC games for this particular week have already been set for TV and are at the first link below.

ACC has six day hold on five games

Pac-12 is also on hold for Notre Dame at USC & Oregon at Oregon St.  One on FOX at 3:30pm ET, the other on ABC or ESPN in a separate telecast window.

Scheduled games so far
My guesses

12pm ABC: Nebraska at Iowa
12pm ESPN2: UCF at USF
12pm CBSSN: Houston at SMU
3pm ESPN3: Navy at South Alabama
8pm ESPN: Virginia at Virginia Tech
8:30pm ESPNU: East Carolina at Tulsa

TBA Pac-12: Utah at Colorado (1pm or 2pm ET)
TBA Pac-12: BYU at California (4:30pm or 6pm ET)
12pm ABC or ESPN: Michigan at Ohio St.
12pm FS1: West Virginia at Iowa St.
12pm ESPNU: Illinois at Northwestern
12pm ESPNEWS: Cincinnati at Temple
12pm FSN: North Texas at UTSA
12pm BTN: Purdue at Indiana
12:30pm ACC Net: NC State at North Carolina
12:30pm ACC RSNs: Syracuse at Boston College
3:30pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2: Baylor vs. Texas Tech
3:30pm ABC/ESPN/ESPN2: Michigan St. at Penn St.
3:30pm ESPNU: Maryland at Rutgers
3:30pm BTN: Minnesota at Wisconsin
4pm FS1: Kansas at Kansas St.
4pm ESPNEWS: Connecticut at Memphis
10pm ESPNU: Nevada at UNLV
10:15pm ESPN2: Utah St. at Boise St.
10:30pm FS1: Washington at Washington St.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2014-15 Men's Basketball on Conference Nets & Syndication

The elder statesman when it comes to conference networks (RIP The mtn.), BTN will carry 128 games, including five games as part of the conference tournament, splitting the first & second rounds plus quarterfinals with ESPN.

There are a handful of non conference games not televised by any of the conference's TV outlets.  Those are sent to a package called BTN Plus where the games can be viewed for a fee.  They are not simply available to authenticated BTN subscribers.

A few wildcard selections exist and are made in conjunction with CBS and/or ESPN.  I think those networks get the best available game(s) and BTN gets the remaining game(s).  A few games are waiting on tip times, possibly due to the NFL playoffs or for bowl game destinations to be finalized.  For example, most tip times on December 27th are TBA as the conference has two bowl tie-ins that day (Pinstripe & Holiday).

Pac-12 Networks
Pac-12 Networks has 141 unique games scheduled across its national feed and regional networks.  During non-conference games, two to three games will be shown at a time, so access to the regional networks or their online video companion will be needed to view every game.

The networks will carry nearly the entire Pac-12 basketball tournament, with the exception of one quarterfinal, semifinal and the championship game which will be carried by ESPN this year.

To open the season on Friday, one of their telecast windows on the national network will be whiparound coverage of five games instead of picking a specific game to simulcast on the national network.

SEC Network
The SEC pooled its schools' local rights, plus the games that would make up the Wednesday/Saturday syndication package and the games formerly conveyed to Comcast to make up the 115 games to air on SEC Network.  During conference season, Tuesdays & Wednesdays will have doubleheaders plus games on Saturdays.

During non-conference play, twenty to twenty-five will air on SEC Network PLUS, an authenticated streaming service for those who receive SEC Network with providers who have signed on for WatchESPN access.

FOX Sports will carry around 30 men's basketball games in 2014-15.  In future seasons, this package of games will revert back to the control of ESPN and is expected to increase the number of games on SEC Network.

ACC Network
The Raycom produced syndication package for the ACC will once again air around 50 games, including the entire ACC tournament coexisting with ESPN's coverage.  Some of the telecast windows will be split between two games.

ESPN3 will provide out-of-market access to these games while the ACC website will provide webcasts of these games without blackouts.

American Sports Network
The newest kid on the block is Sinclair Broadcasting's American Sports Network.  In some ways, ASN is working to fill the gaps vacated in areas that lost syndication packages from the SEC and Big 12.  Sinclair is also looking to fill in programming gaps on its affiliates on primary and digital subchannels.  Regional sports networks like Altitude, Cox Sports and MASN have been looking at the package as filler content as well.

Over half of the package is filled by Conference USA, with other conferences filling in games.  Weeknight games often start at 8pm ET and Saturday doubleheaders usually include 3pm & 5:30pm ET games.  The early rounds of the C-USA tournament will be aired via ASN.

ASN does have the ability to webcast as they've done it a couple times for football, but it doesn't appear that they will make webcasts available regularly for their games at this time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The MAC, ESPN and sublicensing plus a few items for 11/29 CFB TV selections

* You may have seen Deadspin highlight a very interesting exchange between a Kent St. professor and Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher.  It isn't the first time that Steinbrecher has been rather vague about the terms of the MAC's extended TV deal with ESPN and not the first time that a Kent St. student or professor has asked questions about the deal.

The terms of the new deal supposedly don't change for a few years, but what did change is that ESPN took over all video distribution rights to the conference's football & men's basketball games.   By doing this, ESPN is working with the schools to upgrade production facilities and Buffalo, Central Michigan and Northern Illinois will be the first three schools to upgrade.  Regional television deals with Time Warner Cable were cancelled in the process, with ESPN now controlling the sublicensing of events to third parties, per the teleconference with ESPN and the interview with the Hustle Belt.

With a transition period over to self-produced content, there seems to be a gap that isn't yet being filled.  During the 2014 football season, there have only been a handful of regional telecasts, all produced by Buckeye Cable Sports for the airing of Toledo and Bowling Green.  Based on the initial schedule of men's basketball games set aside to air on ESPN Full Court, the only MAC-based regional telecasts so far also come from those two schools via Buckeye Cable.  Sublicensing for the other Ohio schools doesn't seem to have materialized at this time.

I caution with "at this time" and "yet" because the conference has said that there would be regional partners that have worked previously with the MAC.  Those could be on the way.  Maybe the self-production of content will allow some programming to be made available to regional networks.  The Hustle Belt interview notes possible increases in national exposure via sublicensing and right now the only items I can think of are a few extra exposures on CBS Sports Network if they were to drop coverage of Conference USA or to occupy some space on FOX Sports 2 or FSN, again if there were to be large changes in coverage of C-USA once their current rights agreements expire.

Here's the deal with sublicensing though.  The control of it is really out of the conference's hands.  It is up to ESPN to price and sell the content to third parties.  With any contract, and I don't know the exact terms of the deal, if it isn't in writing, it really isn't guaranteed to occur and that applies to sublicensing too I would assume.  The American Athletic Conference appears to have required it as part of their TV deal with ESPN to sublicense content to someone for additional national exposure, who turned out to be CBS Sports Network.  If the MAC is banking on ESPN to sublicense, but the terms for sublicensing are not in place or are in place but not appropriate for the marketplace (ie. costs, blackout protections, etc.), there's no guarantee anything gets sublicensed.  But that's a bit of a doomsday scenario.

I've seen folks from the MAC point to millennials moving away from owning a TV and/or purchasing traditional pay TV services in exchange for the ability to consume content on-demand and/or a-la-carte, one place where sports content doesn't 100% fit.  Going the over-the-top route with ESPN for content, for example, might be a place to go as ESPN is working with over-the-top services for MLS and the NBA.  The MLS service looks like it will be the test bed for the NBA package.  And I do consume, occasionally, games that are exclusively on ESPN3 through my phone via Chromecast to varying degrees of success (ie. app issues where ESPN3 commercials sometimes kill the casting process).

My concern would be if this content remains tied only to ESPN3.  While there are a lot of telcos and stand-alone ISPs who pay for ESPN3 so that you aren't 100% tied to your pay TV providers' ability to carry WatchESPN, will there be a point where ESPN3 gets pulled into WatchESPN acceess too?  And at that point, are you tied back into requiring a pay TV provider for that extra content that isn't televised?

* I messed regarding the requirements of the SEC regarding the maximum number of times a school can appear on CBS and I also think this isn't the first time I've botched it.  As others (Clay Travis, Ryan Brown of WJOX radio, etc.) have expressed, the maximum number of times a school can appear on CBS is five.  I though it was six as Florida hit that number of appearances in 2009.

There is a wildcard built in where CBS can take a team above the maximum number by one no more than four times.  Since I though the max was six, that would have meant seven appearances.  In reality, the "wildcard" number is six with the maximum being five.  So CBS has used their wildcard once and elected not to use it in 2014 for Alabama to get the Iron Bowl.

* As a side note for CFB TV selections for 11/29 and 12/6, the following number of six day holds have been used for the following conferences.  The maximum number of six day holds are in parenthesis:

ACC: 3 (4)
American: 2 (unsure)
Big Ten: 3 (4)
Big 12: 2 (4)
Pac-12: 2 (unsure)

It is my understanding that a six day hold is specific to the kickoff time being held up, not necessarily a decision regarding who will air the game (ie. when a game could air on ESPN or ESPN2 at a specific time).  So it is possible that selections next Monday for 11/28 & 11/29 could be spotty again and in the case of the American and Big 12, who have games on December 6th, two more weeks of held up kickoff times.

Monday, November 10, 2014

CFB TV Guesses for 11/28 & 11/29

Confirmed games
Available TV Windows

* SEC selections for 11/29 have already been taken care of & two MAC games are already set for ESPN3 on 11/28.
*Michigan at Ohio St. is a 12pm ET start. Network is the only decision being made.
* Because FOX took only one Pac-12 game for 11/22, they have two Saturday selections remaining & ESPN has one.
* If FOX were to carry Notre Dame at USC instead of ABC, it would be at 3:30pm.  I could envision ABC taking the Civil War instead in primetime and Baylor vs. Texas Tech as either part of the 3:30pm ABC/ESPN reverse mirror or on one of the two channels nationally.  BYU at California probably ends up on ESPNU at 10pm in a telecast window I didn't think would be needed as the Fremont Cannon game (Nevada-UNLV) I believe will be a day game.
* ABC regional with no reverse mirror, using Baylor-Texas Tech & Kentucky-Louisville, could be used if BTN carries only one game. Florida-Florida St. could air nationally on ESPN.
* In case you were wondering, the last time Notre Dame at USC did not air during east coast primetime was 2000.  Aired at 3:30pm nationally on ABC & was the only game their carried that day.  Courtesy of & ClassicTVSports.
* Notre Dame's visit to Stanford in '07 was also a 3:30pm ESPN game.
* Utah St. at Boise St. will decide the Mountain West's Mountain division.  Boise St. controls its own destiny and will host the West division winner.  If Utah St. wins, Colorado St. wins the Mountain division and hosts as CSU defeated Utah St. earlier this year.

11am ESPNU: Northern Illinois at Western Michigan
12pm ABC: Nebraska at Iowa
12pm ESPN2: East Carolina at Tulsa
12pm CBSSN: UCF at USF
8pm ESPN: Virginia at Virginia Tech
8:30pm ESPNU: Houston at SMU

12pm ABC: Michigan at Ohio St.
12pm ESPN: Wake Forest at Duke  
12pm ESPN2: Syracuse at Boston College
12pm FS1: Kansas at Kansas St.
12pm ESPNU: Rutgers at Maryland
12pm ESPNEWS: Connecticut at Memphis
12pm FSN: North Texas at UTSA
12pm BTN: Illinois at Northwestern
12pm ACC Net: Pittsburgh at Miami (FL)
12pm ACC RSNs: NC State at North Carolina
1pm Pac-12: Utah at Colorado
3:30pm FOX: Oregon at Oregon St.
3:30pm ABC: Florida at Florida St.
3:30pm ESPN: Baylor vs. Texas Tech
3:30pm ESPN2: Minnesota at Wisconsin
3:30pm ESPNU: Kentucky at Louisville
3:30pm BTN: Purdue at Indiana
3:30pm BTN: Michigan St. at Penn St.
4pm FS1: BYU at California
4pm ESPNEWS: Nevada at UNLV
4:30pm Pac-12: Washington at Washington St.
7pm ESPN2: South Carolina at Clemson
7pm ESPNU: Cincinnati at Temple
8pm ABC: Notre Dame at USC
8pm FS1: West Virginia at Iowa St.
10:15pm ESPN2: Utah St. at Boise St. (moved up from 10:30pm ET)

NBC Sports 2014-15 Men's College Basketball Schedule

In terms of the volume of games, NBC is behind other entities on both national & regional levels.  To be fair to them, the focus of their sports programming is less dependent on college sports than other networks, so they can afford to carry a lower number of games.

NBC's primary sports outlet on cable will have 47 men's basketball games.  33 of those games will come from the Atlantic 10 with another ten from the CAA.  The schedule also has the Barclays Center Classic event over Black Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Eleven of the games come from the CAA & Atlantic 10 conference tournaments.  They will carry the CAA's semifinals and championship game plus the Atlantic 10's 2nd round and quarterfinal games.

One item currently missing from the NBCSN schedule is the Ivy League.  The conference allowed its primary deal with the conference to lapse and for football the conference pieced deals together with FOX College Sports, NBCSN and the NBC Sports Regional Networks.

NBC Sports Regional Networks / Comcast SportsNet
NBC's RSNs carry a decent variety of college basketball across their RSNs depending on the location.  In a fair number of cases, one of the RSNs is partnered with a school or conference, such as the CAA or some A-10 schools with CSNs on the east coast or the WCC with some of the schools in the Bay Area and Oregon.  Those games will sometimes be sent to multiple regions as needed to fill time & programming space.

In terms of contractual obligations, the CAA has earmarked CSN as its primary partner and the A-10 has given the NBC RSNs preference when it comes to local & regional telecasts.

In addition to this, ACC & MVC games via FSN will appear on specific RSNs.

CFB TV Confirmations for Week Thirteen (11/18 - 11/22)

My guesses for Week Thirteen
The schedule so far

Games on six day holds
* All American Athletic Conference games
* All Big Ten games except Northwestern at Purdue are six day picks.  Indiana at Ohio St. is guaranteed to air on BTN.  12pm or 3:30pm is what is to be determined.  One of the two BTN windows will air two games concurrently per Big Ten's Mark Rudner.
* Boston College at Florida St.
* Miami (FL) at Virginia
* Vanderbilt at Mississippi St. and Missouri at Tennessee are on hold.  One on ESPN & one on SEC Network.  Both at 7:30pm ET.
* MAC weeknight games for 11/18 & 11/19
* Southland TV wildcard game
* Colorado at Oregon & Oregon St. at Washington are on Pac-12 Networks with tentative kickoff times, depending on ABC's primetime game it appears.
* USC at UCLA, Arizona at Utah and Stanford at California will be available to ESPN & FOX packages.

11/22 Confirmed games
12pm FS1: Kansas at Oklahoma
12pm ESPNU: Northwestern at Purdue
12pm FSN: UTSA at Western Kentucky
12pm SEC Network: Eastern Kentucky at Florida
12pm SEC Network: Charleston Southern at Georgia
12pm SEC/FOX RSNs: South Alabama at South Carolina
12:30pm ACC Network: Virginia Tech at Wake Forest
1pm Pac-12: Washington St. at Arizona St.
1pm ESPN3: Western Michigan at Central Michigan
3:30pm CBS: Ole Miss at Arkansas
3:30pm ESPNU: Syracuse at Pittsburgh
3:30pm FSN: Texas Tech at Iowa St.
3:30pm ACC RSNs: Georgia St. at Clemson
4pm SEC Network: Western Carolina at Alabama
5pm ESPN3: Appalachian St. at UL-Lafayette
7pm ESPNU: Samford at Auburn
7:30pm FOX: Oklahoma St. at Baylor
10:15pm ESPN2: Boise St. at Wyoming
10:30pm ESPNU: Fresno St. at Nevada

Telecast windows not yet filled (An ESPN3 could be used for a game)
12pm: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, BTN (either one game or two)
3:30pm: ABC (could have multiple games, reverse mirror not guaranteed), ESPN, ESPN2, BTN (either one game or two)
7pm: ESPN2
8pm: ABC, CBSSN (American)
Two Pac-12 Networks games w/time TBA.  Could be dependent on whether Pac-12 game airs on ABC at 8pm ET

Sunday, November 9, 2014

CFB TV Guesses for Week Thirteen (11/18 - 11/22)

Week 13 Schedule
Available TV Windows

* I am assuming Indiana at Ohio St. will air on BTN to fill a requirement that each Big Ten school has to appear on BTN at least twice and one appearance must be a intraconference game.
* BTN has both 12pm & 3:30pm ET telecast windows
* 11/22's SEC Network schedule has a multiple game window at 12pm ET with one game on the main channel and one game on their alternate channel, plus a game regionally on FSN at the same time.
* Arizona St. already has nine scheduled appearances as part of the ESPN or FOX packages, including the upcoming Territorial Cup, so the Washington St. game should be on Pac-12 Networks.  
* With tentative windows at 1pm & 4:30pm ET, it signals to me that the Pac-12 will have a primetime window.
* Gave FOX two Pac-12 selections in order to place one Big 12 game on ABC & ESPN to only take one Pac-12 game.  In my mind, that would allow ESPN to take two Pac-12 games next week with FOX selecting one Pac-12 game on Saturday 11/29.
* I think USC at UCLA airs in primetime on the east coast and there really isn't a game to replace it with.  UCLA needs a loss from Arizona St. to have a chance at the Pac-12 South as they hold tiebreakers over both Arizona schools.
* Possible six day decisions:
  • Miami (FL) at Virginia & Boston College at Florida St. - pending outcome of Florida St. at Miami (FL)
  • Oklahoma St. at Baylor.   Could see a decision being made between Boston College at Florida St. or Oklahoma St. at Baylor for either the 3:30pm or 8pm slots on ABC.
    • One item to look out for is both Oklahoma St.-Baylor & Boston College-Florida St. at 8pm without a reverse mirror.  In the event they wanted to get one of the Mountain West or American games currently on ESPN3 exclusively onto ESPNEWS at 4pm.  Tulane at East Carolina or USF at Memphis could be slid up to ESPN2 or ESPNU with Fresno St. at Nevada or SMU at UCF on ESPNEWS.
  • Minnesota at Nebraska, Wisconsin at Iowa & Michigan St. at Maryland - pending outcomes of Ohio St. at Minnesota, Nebraska at Wisconsin & Michigan St. at Maryland
Tuesday 11/18 (both at 8pm ET)
ESPNU: Northern Illinois at Ohio
ESPN3: Massachusetts at Akron

Wednesday 11/19 (both at 8pm ET)
ESPN2: Bowling Green at Toledo
ESPNU: Kent St. at Buffalo

12pm ESPN: Rutgers at Michigan St.
12pm ESPN2: Miami (FL) at Virginia
12pm FS1: Kansas at Oklahoma
12pm ESPNU: Maryland at Michigan
12pm ESPNEWS: Cincinnati at Connecticut
12pm FSN: UTSA at Western Kentucky
12pm BTN: Penn St. at Illinois
12pm BTN: Northwestern at Purdue
12pm SEC: South Alabama at South Carolina
12pm SEC: Eastern Kentucky at Florida
12pm SEC/FSN: Charleston Southern at Georgia
12:30pm ACC Network: Syracuse at Pittsburgh
1pm Pac-12: Washington St. at Arizona St.
3:30pm CBS: Ole Miss at Arkansas
3:30pm ABC/ESPN2: Minnesota at Nebraska
3:30pm ABC/ESPN2: Boston College at Florida St.
3:30pm ESPN: Wisconsin at Iowa
3:30pm ESPNU: USF at Memphis
3:30pm FSN: Texas Tech at Iowa St.
3:30pm ACC RSNs: Virginia Tech at Wake Forest
3:30pm BTN: Indiana at Ohio St.
4pm FS1: Arizona at Utah
4pm ESPNEWS: Tulane at East Carolina
4pm SEC: Western Carolina at Alabama
4pm Southland TV: Central Arkansas at Sam Houston St.
4:30pm Pac-12: Stanford at California
7pm ESPN2: Missouri at Tennessee
7pm ESPNU: Georgia St. at Clemson
7:30pm FOX: USC at UCLA
7:30pm SEC: Samford at Auburn
7:45pm ESPN: Vanderbilt at Mississippi St.
8pm ABC: Oklahoma St. at Baylor
8pm CBSSN: Tulsa at Houston
10pm ESPNU: Boise St. at Wyoming (may move back 15 minutes)
10:30pm ESPN2: Colorado at Oregon
10:30pm Pac-12: Oregon St. at Washington

11/22 ESPN3
Fresno St. at Nevada
Eastern Michigan at Ball St.
Western Michigan at Central Michigan
Appalachian St. at UL-Lafayette
UL-Monroe at New Mexico St.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014-15 ESPN Men's College Basketball Schedule & Notes

ESPN, through four channels, has a massive amount of college basketball.  There's no way around it.

For ESPN, there aren't many changes here from last year.  Mondays are Big Monday with the ACC & Big 12.  Tuesdays are Super Tuesday with the SEC & ACC.  Thursdays are flexible doubleheaders, coupled with ESPN2 for the SEC, Big Ten, American and Pac-12, with an occasional WCC option.  Saturdays are the typically tripleheaders or quadrupleheaders, with a 7pm or 9pm game thrown in as in the past this was the College Gameday game.

College Gameday appears to be going towards a more flexible rotation.  Says they will be going to the best game on a given Saturday, with a one hour pregame leading into the game on site.  To me, that means one of two things.

1) None of the Saturday tip times are set in stone.  Not a single one, even though nearly all of the Saturday games have tip times through February 21st.
2) ESPN has targeted some games for College Gameday.  I wrote about that here.  

ESPN MediaZone's schedule for January seems to indicate option #2.  Certain games have been targeted and the pregame show leading into the College Gameday game is at a specific time.  Schedules can change though.

ESPN2 has around 80 or so more games than ESPN.  ESPN2 has a Wednesday doubleheader involving a Pac-12 game.  What appears to be new for this year is a (fairly) regular Friday night game on ESPN2 starting on January 23rd:

1/23: VCU at Saint Louis
2/6: George Washington at Dayton
2/13: Horizon League Game
2/20: Cleveland St. at Green Bay
2/27: MAAC Wildcard
3/6: MAC Wildcard & Texas Tech at Baylor

ESPNU has the most college basketball of any traditional TV network.  300+ games.  Key items I noticed:

* The MAC will have a handful of Friday night games, alongside the MAAC and/or Horizon League.
* Most Sundays starting in January will feature tripleheaders with the MVC, ACC and Pac-12.

ESPNEWS will carry a little over 50 combined games with the majority of the games coming from the American and the Big 12.

With the Big 12 ending their syndication package in favor of national cable coverage with ESPN, the conference will see more games on ESPNU and ESPNEWS.  Because of that, you'll see games from their conference tournament ESPNU, in addition to ESPN & ESPN2 coverage.  The American will have a couple games from their conference tournament on ESPNEWS too.

There are 30+ games that have not yet been slotted for a specific network.  They'll either be slotted as part of the flexibility for College Gameday or closer to the date of the game based on network programming.

There is also ESPN3, which is going to have a ton of games.  Far too many for me to compile a list of as schools are now producing their own games to air on ESPN3 in addition to conference TV deals.  The SEC Network will also have 100+ televised games, which I'll tack on in a separate post that discusses the conference television networks.

Monday, November 3, 2014

CFB TV Confirmations for Week Twelve (11/11 - 11/15)

Will update as announcements are made.  Games set before today are on the schedule link below.  The MAC games on 11/11 & 11/12 might be set after this week's midweek games.

All available TV windows are listed.  Some are left open and not used.

Guesses for Week Twelve
Full schedule for the week

Six day option on the following for ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 at 12pm or ABC or ESPN at 3:30pm:

Clemson at Georgia Tech
Ohio St. at Minnesota
Nebraska at Wisconsin

Six day option for these two games on ESPN or ESPN2 at 12pm or ESPN or BTN at 3:30pm
Illinois at Iowa
Temple at Penn St.

Indiana at Rutgers will air on BTN either at 12pm or 3:30pm.

Six day option for these two games on CBS at 3:30pm or ESPN at 7:15pm
Mississippi St. at Alabama
Auburn at Georgia

MAC midweek TV designations are on hold after 11/4 & 11/5 games.

12pm ESPNU: Virginia Tech at Duke
12pm SECNet: South Carolina at Florida
12:30pm ACC Net: Pittsburgh at North Carolina
1pm ESPN3: Miami (OH) at Central Michigan
2:30pm FSN: Rice at Marshall
3pm FS1: TCU at Kansas
3pm ACC RSNs: Wake Forest at NC State
3pm ESPN3: Appalachian St. at Arkansas St.
3:30pm FOX: Washington at Arizona
3:30pm ABC and/or ESPN: Oklahoma at Texas Tech
3:30pm ESPNU: Memphis at Tulane
3:30pm ESPN3: Texas St. at South Alabama
4pm ESPNEWS: New Mexico at Utah St.
4pm SECNet: Kentucky at Tennessee
5pm ESPN3: Troy at Idaho
6pm Pac-12: Utah at Stanford
7pm ESPN3: UL-Lafayette at UL-Monroe
7:30pm FOX: Texas at Oklahoma St.
7:30pm SECNet: Missouri at Texas A&M
8pm ABC: Florida St. at Miami (FL)
8pm ESPN2: LSU at Arkansas
10pm FS1: North Texas at UTEP
10:30pm ESPNU: San Diego St. at Boise St.
10:45pm ESPN: Arizona St. at Oregon St.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Week Twelve CFB TV Guesses (11/11 - 11/15)

Week Twelve Schedule
Currently Available TV Windows

* ESPN moved ABC's 12pm window from 11/1 over to 11/15, making a tripleheader.
* Reverse mirrors are possible, but not guaranteed, for all ABC timeslots.  Note the 8pm ESPN2 option.
* FOX has a doubleheader at 3:30pm & 7:30pm
* Ohio St.'s game vs. either Minnesota or Indiana must air on BTN to fulfill a requirement that every Big Ten school appear at least once on BTN as part of a conference game.
* I could see a 12 day pick for all of FOX's selections for a few reasons:

  • There are no standout games from the Pac-12 or Big 12
  • Marshall, at 8-0, may be worth showing on FS1, but they have a game at Southern Miss.  Not sure I'd select a game just yet.
  • Flexibility exists with the C-USA choice of North Texas at UTEP.  Can fit in all available telecast windows.  10pm ET start = 8pm local start in El Paso.  From what you see below, I would much rather reward Marshall with a FS1 appearance, but timeslots really make it tough.
  • I could also see FOX pulling its FSN 2pm window, if it can move its NASCAR commitments (Nextel Cup practice & Nationwide qualifying) from FOX Sports 1 to FOX Sports 2.  They did this to create an extra FS1 window on 11/1, removing FSN's 3:30pm window (WKU-La Tech was originally at 12pm, then slid to 3pm).  They have UFC commitments at 7pm ET.  Moving that is probably not an option.
* With only one Pac-12 Networks game at 4pm, I do believe that either ABC or FOX would air a Pac-12 game in primetime.  Washington at Arizona seems like the best available choice based on combined record at the moment.
* Another place you might see a six day hold is the top end of the Big Ten selections.  Ohio St. at Minnesota & Nebraska at Wisconsin are virtually interchangeable games, at least by records.
* BYU's TV contract requires at least one game a year on ESPNU and this is the last available game to fill that requirement.
* I messed up in an earlier article.  Boise St. has already had three home games on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.  Their remaining games can be slotted on any ESPN platform.
* After slotting the Mountain West & BYU games, I did not see a need for the 12pm ESPNEWS window.  A case could be made to show Texas St. at South Alabama, who both have winning records overall & in the Sun Belt.

Tuesday 11/11
8pm ESPN2: Toledo at Northern Illinois
8pm ESPNU: Akron at Buffalo

Wednesday 11/12
8pm ESPN2: Bowling Green at Kent St.
8pm ESPNU: Ball St. at Massachusetts

12pm ABC: Nebraska at Wisconsin
12pm ESPN: Oklahoma at Texas Tech
12pm ESPN2: Iowa at Illinois
12pm ESPNU: Virginia Tech at Duke
12pm SECNet: South Carolina at Florida
12pm BTN: Temple at Penn St.
12:30pm ACC Net: Wake Forest at NC State
2pm FSN: Rice at Marshall
3pm FS1: Texas at Oklahoma St.
3pm ACC RSNs: Pittsburgh at North Carolina
3:30pm CBS: Mississippi St. at Alabama
3:30pm FOX: TCU at Kansas
3:30pm ABC/ESPN: Ohio St. at Minnesota
3:30pm ABC/ESPN: Clemson at Georgia Tech
3:30pm ESPNU: Memphis at Tulane
3:30pm BTN: Indiana at Rutgers
4pm ESPNEWS: New Mexico at Utah St.
4pm SECNet: Kentucky at Tennessee
4pm Pac-12: Arizona St. at Oregon St.
7pm ESPN: Auburn at Georgia
7pm ESPNU: San Diego St. at Boise St.
7:30pm FOX: Washington at Arizona
7:30pm SECNet: LSU at Arkansas
8pm ABC: Florida St. at Miami (FL)
8pm ESPN2: Missouri at Texas A&M
10pm FS1: North Texas at UTEP
10:15pm ESPNU: UNLV at BYU (moved up from 10:30pm)
10:30pm ESPN: Utah at Stanford

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

FOX Sports 2 & Distribution for College Sports

Going back through a few items, some related to the Big Ten rights negotiations upcoming in the next year.  The rights that are housed in BTN aren't up for negotiation, but the rest will be and there is the belief that FOX will be active in acquiring a portion of the rights they currently don't have.

Besides the college football that FOX Sports 1 already carries, there is also MLB, NASCAR and UFC that the network carries on Saturdays, so it is rare for the network to have just college football shown on a particular Saturday.  So the focus comes to FOX Sports 2, which doesn't have the distribution number that FS1 has.  Typically FS2 is on a different tier from FS1 or it might not be carried at all.  FS2 was subscribed to in around 33-37 million homes coming into the year compared to around 85-90 million for FS1, so there is a big gap.

For the Big 12Pac-12 & C-USA content that FOX has rights to, there are differences that FOX can exploit.  These come from press releases, not actual contracts, so we don't know the exact language being specified.  Many of these press releases listed FX or FSN as well, but FS1 is more or less a direct replacement for F/X when it comes to FOX's national sports content.

It is probably easier to exploit the Big 12's and C-USA's contract provisions.  Both conferences place games on FSN and FOX College Sports.  The Big 12 has a very low minimum number of just six games on a national cable outlet, so their agreement may have been built to be flexible with a secondary outlet or FSN in mind.  C-USA's agreement may be built to be flexible.  I'm less certain about the Pac-12.

But the ability to schedule a game for a particular outlet may require FOX to guarantee a level of distribution for that channel.  Could be why FOX still puts a decent number of Big 12 & C-USA football on FSN instead of FS2.  

So I ask you - if you were a conference commissioner negotiating rights for a conference and FOX wanted to move games to a secondary outlet like FS2, what would be the minimum number of subscribing homes you could accept nationally?  Does it have to be 1-for-1 with FOX Sports 1?  Can it be closer to ESPNU (~75 million homes) or lower like CBSSN (~60 million) or BTN (~59 million)?

And this isn't saying the network can't grow from there.  Doesn't have to be a big time game either, but what is that minimum that you would accept to schedule a game over there?

Monday, October 27, 2014

MBK & CFB TV Roundup, Opinions, BS, etc.

I couldn't put together a complete post on a particular topic, so this is just random stuff.  There's conjecture and opinion sprinkled in here.

* On 11/29, there are only four SEC controlled games.  There's a CBS 3:30pm window and it could end up airing the Egg Bowl or the Iron Bowl.  No guarantees yet for either one.  What is interesting is that there are three scheduled SEC Network windows, per ESPN MediaZone.  Three, not two.

There is no men's basketball scheduled for the network that day.  No other events currently.  So, if the number of telecast windows hold up, and when running the numbers for 11/29, they might as the ACC has five games for ESPN nets after Raycom & RSN packages and the Big Ten has four games (assuming two on BTN), you won't see either the Egg Bowl or Iron Bowl on ESPN if CBS doesn't take it.  You might need the SEC Network.

* For the 11/8 football TV selections, it makes sense in some ways that FOX took, arguably, the top two Big 12 selections (Baylor at Oklahoma & Kansas St. at TCU while the Pac-12's top two games (Notre Dame at Arizona St. & Oregon at Utah) found their way to ESPN.

ESPN has used fourteen of their nineteen Big 12 selections with four weeks left.  On 12/6, with three Big 12 games, FOX does not have a broadcast TV window for the conference and FS1 has a single window at 3pm, so it would make sense that ESPN would have two games that day.  There's only one way to accomplish that realistically and that is for ESPN to skip airing any Big 12 games one of these weeks.  That particular Saturday appears to be on November 8th.

* And both the Pac-12 & Big 12 appear to be intertwined by the common rightsholders of ESPN and FOX.  ESPN had six remaining Pac-12 selections to use coming into the 11/8 selections and FOX had five.  ESPN used two, FOX used one and now they are on equal ground for the rest of the season with four to use over the final three Saturdays.  The math seems to work out.

11/15 - 3 games.  Pac-12 Networks has one scheduled window at 4pm ET.  FOX & ESPN each take one game.

11/22 - 6 games. Pac-12 Networks has three telecasts scheduled at 1pm, 4:30pm and 10:30pm ET.  FOX could take a game, then ESPN could take two.  Or vice versa

11/29 - 5 games.  Pac-12 Networks has two windows at 1pm & 4:30pm.  Whomever takes two games on 11/22 takes only one on 11/29.

* Periodically, ESPN airs two games or more on ABC without 100% reverse mirror coverage for all the games.  Usually the ACC, Big 12 or American is involved in these scenarios.  The reason for that is that these three conferences don't have the requirement of their games airing "nationally" via a reverse mirror.

I can't speak for either conference, but I would suspect that if they wanted full coverage for every game, they would have had to give up something in return, possibly monetary (I know, these conferences make a lot of money already).  The Big 12, by having their rights split by FOX and ESPN, does enjoy the ability for a few extra national broadcast games via FOX.

* The Pac-12 Networks, instead of picking a specific 10pm ET / 7pm PT men's basketball game on the opening night of the season out of the five available, will show "Full Court Friday Coverage" on the national feed.  I'm interpreting this to mean they will show whiparound coverage of the five available games instead of focusing a specific game.

* Straight up got it wrong regarding my position on Big Ten rights and what is going out for bid.  Apparently everything is.
The BTN partnership is 25 years, so I guess its possible for FOX to own a network where they control none of the rights on it, but that doesn't make a lot sense.  I imagine the conference would approve of putting a handful of games that currently reside on BTN on a more widely distributed network.  Not sure if ESPN would like that, but I'm not sure it matters.  I don't see FOX getting into the game at a big scale.  I'm looking at a BTN that after the first few weeks isn't that clogged up with two or three games.

It is something I need to rethink in the offseason.

* Disregard the strike-through item.  After writing up the original item regarding the Big Ten, I found that BTN's rights are not up for negotiation.  The only rights that are up for negotiation are:
  • ESPN, which includes football & men's basketball
  • CBS, for basketball including the conference tournament semifinals and championship
  • FOX, for the football championship game
BTN is a 25 year partnership for FOX and the Big Ten and that includes the games on the network and its distribution (TV, internet, etc.).  Just try to get the correct items out there.  My apologies.

* I am curious to see the final number of Big Ten games that air across all ESPN platforms.  So far, they've had fourteen games on ABC & 29 games on ESPN platforms, which is two over their previous maximum of 41 games.  Five of the 29 have aired on ESPNEWS and that network is new to airing Big Ten football.   I had it pegged at around 44 games and they'll match that, at least, with the 11/15 selections.

* If FOX isn't tied to placing the live college sports content they own on FSN, maybe FOX Sports 2 would have a few more live events and subscribers.  Most of the Big 12 and C-USA football games that end up on FSN aren't impressive to you and me, but FSN currently has a lot of sublicensed content from the ACC tied into the next 10+ years that they can distribute to all of their RSNs and it doesn't appear that FOX can place this ACC content on FS1 or FS2.  Again, the Big 12 and C-USA stuff, plus around 18-20 Big East basketball games, isn't great content and I don't know what guarantees FOX has with its RSNs to provide college sports programming, but some of this content could be used to slowly build up FS2 while they continue to control the sublicensed ACC content for another decade, or at least until it is bought back for a possible ACC 24/7 Network.

* I'm really surprised/dumbfounded/in the dark when it comes to the MAC.  I expected the regional syndication items to fall off since they fell off for other conferences that ESPN administered syndication packages.  I am more surprised that the regional cable/sports package ended completely, at least for the moment.  In football, only Buckeye Cable Sports has picked up any games to air regionally.  For basketball, an announcement for more regional coverage is supposed to be forthcoming.  At least it was at the end of September.

CFB TV Confirmations for 11/8

The MAC games on 11/4 & 11/5 had their network designations set yesterday and can be found at the link for the week eleven schedule. 

Six day hold for two Big 12 games.  Baylor at Oklahoma & Kansas St. at TCU will air on FOX platforms.  One at 12pm on FS1, the other at 7:30pm on FOX.

12pm ESPN: Georgia at Kentucky
12pm ESPN2/ESPNU: Iowa at Minnesota
12pm ESPN2/ESPNU: Wisconsin at Purdue
12pm FSN: UTSA at Rice
12pm CBSSN: SMU at Tulsa
12pm BTN: Penn St. at Indiana
12pm SEC: Presbyterian at Ole Miss
12:30pm ACC Network or RSNs: Georgia Tech at NC State
12:30pm ACC Network or RSNs: Duke at Syracuse
3pm ESPN3: Georgia St. at Troy
3pm ESPN3: South Alabama at Arkansas St.
3:30pm ABC: Notre Dame at Arizona St.
3:30pm ESPN2: Michigan at Northwestern
3:30pm CBS: Texas A&M at Auburn

3:30pm FS1: West Virginia at Texas
3:30pm ESPNU: Tulane at Houston
3:30pm FSN: Iowa St. at Kansas
3:30pm ESPN3: UL-Monroe at Appalachian St.
4pm SEC: UT Martin at Mississippi St.
4pm Pac-12: Washington St. at Oregon St.
4pm ESPN3: Georgia Southern at Texas St.
6:30pm ESPN: Virginia at Florida St.
7pm FS1: UCLA at Washington
7pm ESPNU: Hawai'i at Colorado St.
7:15pm ESPN2: Louisville at Boston College
7:30pm SEC: Florida at Vanderbilt
8pm CBS: Alabama at LSU
8pm Pac-12: Colorado at Arizona
10pm ESPN: Oregon at Utah