* Per an interview conducted by WMXI in Laurel, MS with Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis, negotiations are ongoing with potential C-USA rightsholders for 2016-17 and, presumably, beyond.
McGillis did discuss Sinclair's American Sports Network at length compared to other existing C-USA rightsholders FOX Sports and CBS Sports Network, which could be a tell for future agreements. He did mention that there were some growing pains seeing those games in the state of Mississippi vs. people in far flung areas of the U.S. having no issue seeing those games. He also mentioned that the exposure of those games outweighed, at the time, the financial rewards, which I believe are very small, if anything.
He also said that the baseball tournament held over May 25-29 was the final event under the existing deal and that more should be known by the spring meetings, which are May 23-25. To hear the interview, go to http://radio.securenetsystems.net/v5/WMXI , click Menu on bottom left, choose On Demand streams & go to Pine Belt Sports Drive for 4/4.
Hat tip to the posters at CUSABBS who posted about this interview in advance.
As for weeknight scheduling of football games for 2016, I suppose it is possible that game date chances have been finalized and are waiting for an official public announcement. The Indiana at FIU game, as a non-conference C-USA controlled game, may have required an earlier deadline for a date change. The rest of the date changes, if any, could be between member schools and be announced at any time.
For me, the lateness of the finalization of the deal(s) is interesting. Conferences that don't sponsor football can go a bit longer without finalizing a rights deal because the first televised event, often in men's basketball or a fall championship, won't be until mid-November at the earliest.
* As for Big Ten rights negotiations, please take a look at the article in Sports Business Journal, which is now freely viewable. A few things do strike me as interesting:
- ESPN didn't discuss concrete terms for an agreement with the conference. Maybe the feeling was that it would be a waste of time to drive up the price by themselves without knowing who the actual bidders are.
- Conversely, when ESPN decided not to bid on NASCAR and allowed their exclusive negotiating window to end, I believe (and I'm still trying to properly source this) ESPN kept quiet at the request of NASCAR so that they could get the best possible deal out of NBC.
- The conference is not outsourcing negotiations to a media consultant. Jim Delany is going to negotiate.
- ESPN has run numbers on both a full rights renewal and partial packages, so they're braced to split rights with another entity
- Turner appears to be interested in a small package of men's basketball games as a trial run for the NCAA tournament, which is similar to what they do with their Sunday MLB package as a lead-in to their playoff coverage, as it runs during the back half of the season. They could, for example, look to get 5-6 games on Saturdays or Sundays where CBS, for example, isn't televising a Big Ten game, or run a doubleheader with the CBS game.